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September 16, 2009

Gadgets that save you money

netflix_player_by_roku.jpg With your help, I'd like this blog post and subsequent comments to be about electronic gadgets that are useful and save you money.

Here's what you can do: State the gadget and present your case for why you think it saves you money. Give realistic costs in your argument.

This post was inspired by OneFineJay's suggestion via Twitter a few days ago. I hope he shares with us what his most money-saving gadget is. Here's mine:

Last week was my birthday, and my wife shocked me with a gadget gift, of all things. I was expecting an electric razor ('cuz I'd asked for one) but the box instead held a Roku digital media player. (Thanks, dear. You know I'm always grateful for any gift that comes with yellow, white and red cables for plugging into other electronics equipment!)

The Roku is a small black box you hook up to your TV, and here's what it allows you to do: You can sync it with your Netflix account and use it to watch the "instant" movies from the rental service, straight to your TV. (Here's a good, recent USAToday story on the company.)

You can also sync it with your Amazon Video on Demand account to watch movies and tv shows from that service. Or, if you're a baseball net, you can get access (for a fee) to MLB.TV premium.

So, here's how the cost breaks down:

*Roku player: $99
*Netflix subscription: $9/month
*My monthly DSL bill: $23/month

So, for $32 a month, I can watch a lot of movies and TV shows, on demand, commercial free. Sure, it's not premium stuff, like HBO, but it's not bad either. I feel like I'm saving money vs a regular cable plan and that it is providing value to me.

For someone who eschews cable, I'm leaning toward thinking the selection, quality and the price point feels about right. Thus far, I've had Roku plugged in for less than a week and I've watched Wall-E, a Thomas Jefferson documentary, and Say Anything (my wife's favorite John Cusack film, I learned). I've got another 10 or so movies in my "watch instantly" queue.

Pluses: affordable startup and recurring costs, extremely easy to set up, good quality video. Minuses: Netflix needs to make more "watch instantly" movies available, Roku should partner up with more content services, like Youtube or iTunes, if it can, or allow you to tap into your own stored content on your home computer.

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 10:05 AM | | Comments (9)
Categories: Gadgets


That's easy. The public libraries! I am voracious reader and love to read anything that's new. Unfortunately my budget doesn't like me going to Amazon (or even and spending so much each month.

I like the libraries because you can have a "queue" just like Netflix where yo ucan manage your account online to make requests, pay finds, place holds, etc. Also, the libraries tend to be good about order a lot of copies of the most popular titles, making waiting time almost nothing.

My favorite money saving gadget is a kitchen gadgets - a Food Saver vacuum sealer/

Combined with bulk food from a membership warehouse (or farmers market) a Food Saver can save you a lot of money in the long run. Of course, you've got to actually make an effort to use it and remember to eat the food you've sealed.. Too many people forget and end up throwing their sealed foodstuffs anyway.

That depends where on Earth you are standing in relation to the equator. 

First day of Fall 2009 - Northern Hemisphere For the Northern Hemisphere, as in the United States, Canada and most of Europe, Fall begins on September 22, 2009 at 5:18 pm EDT. 
Note: Fall is also known as autumn - and lasts from the autumnal equinox (September) to the winter solstice (December). 

Hopefully by September 22 we all get at least one channel or more channels as stated by Ruko Executive. We or some of us aware about mediafly and that leave us on 7 Channels if we will count and more to come if you will think about how we revolutionized the Internet tv. Most TV manufacturer's like Vizio, Samsung etc. will have a built in internet TV maybe by the end of the year. Vizio delayed thier Internet TV by December, Vudu integrated to Some giant TV manufacturer like LG. available now w/c make the Roku more stronger in stand alone inernet TV and cheaper, I hope so just need to release more channels. Overall I love my Roku player.  


Sure, the start-up costs can be high (a quick look at showed Garmins from $150+), but the time+gas it has saved me has been worth it.

- I don't have to print directions anymore, so it saves me a couple bucks on paper
- I don't drive around in circles or spend time idling on a side street while trying to figure out where I am on the map
- I can use it to find restaurants near where I am (anywhere), so I might save money by going to places that I know are cheaper vs. ones right off the highway
- I'm safer by not having to ask shady people for directions

Some of those benefits aren't quantifiable, but I think it fits along with what you're getting at.

I own a lot of electronic gadgets and geegaws here's a breakdown of a few things that have saved me money over time.

1. Alpine car stereo with ipod interface, $200 installed. Saved me hundreds of burnable CDs since I can never listen to the same stuff. Also kept me driving around safely instead of shuffling CDs around. By the time I'd run my car into the ground, it'd have saved me hundreds of discs and made my commutes bearable.

2. Google SMS, which is free to access with my unlimited texting plan of $20. I'm not a big fan of surfing the web on the phone. It kills battery life, for one. The only reason I'd be doing that stuff anyway is to get info on the fly, mostly for phone calls and addresses. By texting my queries to GOOG, I save money on a data plan for my Treo and 411 calls to VZW.

3. Coffee grinder. I love coffee but I like it fresh. Nothing beats fresh-ground coffee, and every cup I make beats out $3 at Starbucks, which leads me to gadget #4:

4. Espresso machine! Even the cheap Mr. Coffee I bought for $20 at The Retailer Hipsters Hate has saved me tons of money by discouraging a visit to Starbucks. I took a long look at what I get from that coffee shop and realized I could make everything that I buy there.

Roku Player

Interface is so Easy.

Technology existed now and by the blink of your eyes this will evolve overtime. ITV is not only what you watch it could be music or social network like facebook.  

Gus -

Glad you liked your present. I know I love my Roku!

Thanks for suggesting it to my wife! -gs

Great tips. Thanks for the advice. I have been using a telephone answering service for my business for a few months. They customize a plan to work with your business. Its been really cost effective and a great way to improve efficiency.

The Roku is just an awesome piece of device which I believe will kill television :)

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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