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How to rent gadgets before you buy them

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way you could try out the latest model iPhone before you spent the money on it?

Luckily for you, there is: There are many services and retailers that allow you to rent various gadgets so you can get a feel for them before you make a final buying decision.

Sadly, many people have no idea that such a service even exists, so let us clue you in.

Here are three places that offer gadget rentals – or will soon – to help you get a feel for techy products before you commit to buying one:

Use Grover

With Grover, you can choose from more than 300 different products, including smartphones, PC and laptop computers, video game consoles, tablets and smartwatches.

There are no minimum contract periods and no limits. When you’re done with a product, you can return it for free, swap it for another product or make a purchase.

Pricing varies depending on the product, but generally, runs between $15 and $30 per month. For example, the site says smartphones and gaming systems start at $14.90 per month, while tablets begin at $29.90 per month.

The main issue with Grover appears to be availability. During a random search of both smartphones and gaming systems, the site indicates all products are rented at the moment. You can add your name to a waiting list, but there is no indication how long that wait might be.

Also, when you click on Available Now, not one product shows up. So while the service sounds good in theory, there seems to be a good amount of waiting involved before you actually get your hands on a product.

Give Lumoid a try

Lumoid is a rental service that focuses on four categories of gadgets: cameras, drones, wearables and audio equipment. While it appears most of the items listed are in stock, the service is a bit pricier than Grover.

For example, the site says drone rental begins at $5 per day, but that will only get you a battery pack. The cheapest drones the site lists cost $25 per day to rent, and some require a deposit of $200.

Pricing varies by product type. Camera kits that include a top-notch camera and at least one lens range from $15 to $60 per day. Wearable trials are one-week long and start at $5 per day. Home audio system trials are also a week long and range from $35 to more than $100, while headphone trials are two weeks and start at $30.

The best thing about the pricing system is 20 percent of the rental subtotal turns into credits you can use to make final purchases. That takes a bit of the sting out of the sometimes-steep rental prices since you know a portion of that can be used to purchase a product later.

Test with Best Buy

Best Buy is one of the most well-known electronics retailers around, and it too is looking to enter the rental game. In June, the chain said it would partner with the previously mentioned Lumoid on a rental program that includes audio equipment, fitness trackers and cameras.

A number of news stories indicated the partnership would begin in late June, but as of mid-July, the try-before-you-buy option is nowhere to be found on Best Buy’s website.

There’s no word yet on when the service will officially launch, but when it does, it’s a safe bet it will closely follow Lumoid’s pricing and policies.

Purchasing a piece of technology can be a serious investment, so it’s nice to know there are try-before-you-buy options available, however limited they might be.

If you find yourself wavering on whether to make a move, check out one of these three options to see if there is a rental plan that works for you.

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