In today’s world, we all seem to want things to be cheaper, but also expect the same results. This is reasonable, to a degree. We all want various levels of quality so we can have options for various aspects of our lives. For example, CCTV cameras, now door cams, can cost from $100-1000 or more, but you can now buy them online (typically foreign made) for $75 or even $50 in some cases. What’s the difference? What are you missing out on? Is it worth the savings?

At FulTech, we offer good, better, best and Ultra options to our clients. For example, most speaker companies we represent, Klipsch, Sonance, Episode and others all offer series of speakers in the good, better, best range and with similar pricing for each level. AV Reciever companies do the same thing. You can get AV receivers in the $500, $1000-1500, $3000 and $5k and up ranges. You can also get value receivers at $250-300, or speakers for $30 each, but we won’t sell those.

We have an old test we’ve done for years, where we have 3 pair of speakers connected to the same source. We start with the lowest quality pair of speakers and let customers listen to a few songs and different volume levels. Most respond something along the lines of “that sounds pretty good”. Then we switch to the mid-grade speakers. Typically, they respond, that’s a little better. But, it’s even more pronounced when we switch back to the low end speakers. Then the response is “WOW!”. Finally, we switch to the “best” pair of speakers and clients are usually awed by the clarity, levels and crispness of the audio. Switching back “down” to the lower quality speakers, shows a significant difference in quality. This is just one example of how side by side comparisons can be a wise decision when making purchases. What you don’t know, is still there.

Over our 22 years in business, we have tried, field and lab tested many of these systems over the years, determining what to include in our offerings, what works and what doesn’t. With cameras, the 2 biggest pitfalls we found are picture quality degradation over time and signal drop off or delay. This is especially true with wireless cameras. So, for instance, a hardwired camera will notify you instantly, provide the same quality time and time again and typically not fail when needed. With just about any Wifi camera we’ve tested, even the best have a delay and the rest, often miss events or don’t record anything, the ONE time you need it to work. Furthermore, we’ve replaced so many Big Box CCTV systems we’ve lost count. These system are a great price, sometimes $350 or less for a DVR and 4 cameras, something that has run $1500 or more for years, typically. Great price, but after replacing dozens of these, we found they last on average, about 6-9 months. When they do work, the quality is so lacking, they are of no value as evidence. So basically, with some of these products, you are literally throwing away your money.

The same can be said for almost any smart home product or system. You can find really cheap “hubs” or controllers, but like IRIS and others mentioned in prior post, you may invest a lot into a system, then the manufacturer shuts down, sells or changes ecosystems, and you are out of luck. We advise you check out the companies making these products and find out if they are a reputable, long lived, reliable company. Also, do they actually make their products, or are they simply importing something and putting their name on it (this is actually quite common in the DIY Smart home market). So, bottom line is there are typically big differences between a $20-50 hub or controller and a several hundred dollar or more unit. Everything from tech support and warranty to longevity and robustness is typically affected by price. As has been said for eons, caveat emptor (buyer beware).