On Trial

Tech rental services allow shoppers to try before they buy

Young shoppers are cautious when making big ticket purchases and prefer to get hands-on with items before fully committing. This holds true with technology purchases, which are rarely cheap and rapidly depreciate in value, adding to the stress of such buying decisions. In response, services are popping up that allow people to try devices before they buy, giving them a chance to test a range of new tech toys.


Originally launched in Germany as ByeBuy, Grover has made the leap overseas, now offering tech rentals in the NYC area with plans to expand to additional U.S. cities soon. Rentals are on a month-by-month basis, allowing customers to check out smartphones, laptops, and gadgets like the Parrot intelligent watering system for as little as $3.99, an Apple Watch for $24.90, or a Samsung Gear VR Innovator headset for $19.90. Grover offers a rent-to-own option: if the user chooses to keep the item, the monthly subscription is applied to the purchase, which amounts to the retail cost plus three additional months’ subscription fees.


A specialist in the try-before-you-buy market, Lumoid allows users to request up to five devices to test in real world situations, much like Warby Parker’s home try-on offering. For example, one can select a range of fitness trackers from Jawbone to Misfit to Fitbit. After trying them out, the user can choose to send all the devices back and pay a $20 rental fee, or if he or she elects to buy one of the devices, Lumoid will waive the rental fee and ship a brand new device at the standard retail cost. Lumoid’s gadget selection ranges from drones to wearables to video gear.


Demonstrating creativity is highly important to Millennials and Gen Z, but doing so can come at the cost of high-priced cameras and equipment. New gear swap service Parachut offers a solution to this dilemma by allowing subscribers to test and play with a vast range of video and photography devices for $149 a month. Members receive a ‘Chut Drop with a different mix of lenses, cameras, and peripherals, and the packages are curated based on the gear the user already owns, their particular requests, and their creative style. Parachut also offers analog equipment for those who want to keep it old school.