Customer support hack: Skip Netgear’s 90-day support by shopping at Costco.

And it was on this latest parental tech support quest that I discovered something fascinating. Costco selection: The same, but different. And the promise is that there will be new content through the app daily. The Explorers 8K app is available through the Roku Channel Store, but sign up will require setting up an account on the Explorers Plus web page . The Kirkland Signature brand is well known for being manufactured by the same people that make top brands, whether it’s for clothing or groceries, golf balls or mattresses. Both offer Wi-Fi 6E speeds in the same distinctive design, and with more or less identical features.

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But when you consider that a Costco membership only costs $60, and Netgear wants to charge an extra $49.99 for extended warranty and support, that membership starts looking pretty good. The same is true for the Editor’s Choice Netgear Nighthawk AX8 (RAX80) — Costco carries the essentially identical Netgear Nighthawk Tri-Band 8-Stream AX6200 WiFi 6 Router , which has the same feature set and extremely similar specs. And not just in the sense that media is made in different countries. A few examples: The Kirkland Signature mattress brand is made by Stearns & Foster, Costco batteries are made by Duracell, and Starbucks brews Kirkland Signature Coffee. There’s the award-winning, category-beating speed demon, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 , is listed as the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE450 . Even Wi-Fi extenders get the Costco treatment, as the top-performer from the best Wi-Fi extenders . The real bargain: Concierge Services.

I’ve written at length in the past about the complete lack of 8K content options available on 8K TVs. But Costco has always been pretty open about the fact that it genuinely tries to offer its members better-than-average quality. A toll-free number gives you access to expert technicians for troubleshooting, giving set-up support and whatever else you might need help with. The Explorers gives TCL 8K TVs a subscription streaming service for 8K video. What that means for TCL TV owners is that there is a library of 8K content available now. "8K HDR enhances images with stunning sharpness and depth of field," said Gregory Martoglio, world-renowned nature cinematographer and frequent contributor to The Explorers. "The powerful images of the natural world that we’ve preserved in 8K video look spectacular on The Explorers Channel through the TCL 6-Series 8K TV." They already had the mesh router (a Christmas present that never got set up), but buying a cable modem sent us on a trip into town, and eventually, to the local Costco.

That’s not a terribly long time for a product you might use for years. Instead of tweaking TV settings or cleaning malware off of a laptop, this trip’s tech project was switching my parents over to a cable modem and mesh router. TCL 8K TV owners will be able to get the Explorers 8K premium subscription service, the new 8K streaming service from the The Explorers Foundation. On top of that, Costco Volkswagen Tiguan 2010 usually asks manufacturers to increase their usual standards, so that shoppers get slightly better products for their money. A recent trip home to visit my parents gave me ample opportunity to perform what has become a homecoming ritual for many – providing on-site tech support to my parents.

So Costco instead doubles down on the extras, offering for free what most retailers use as upselling opportunities — extended warranties, tech support access and a generous return policy. There are plenty of reasons to consider a Costco membership. Specifically, by gathering and sharing a large library of 8K and 4K ultra HD video devoted to the natural, cultural and human heritage of Earth. Even if it doesn’t have the latest movies and TV shows, the idea of a steady drip of 8K content is a major step up from where we’ve been, giving 8K TV owners something new to watch every single day.

There hasn’t been a good source of 8K content for TV owners to enjoy. In fact, Netgear’s short customer service policy has been our biggest issue with Netgear’s otherwise excellent products over the last few years. From great prices to cheap hotdogs and (someday) the return of Sample Day, Costco does an unusually great job in keeping shoppers happy. And in the case of Netgear, that year of free tech support neatly closes one of the biggest gaps in the company’s offerings. And there’s no non-member option for getting the Costco Concierge Services that come with tech products.

It’s worth noting that The Explorers app is available to all Roku customers, and only the 3-month free trial is exclusive to TCL customers. The flipside to this is that Netgear also offers subscription-based coverage, giving customers the opportunity to get longer coverage periods for an extra fee. (Netgear will either charge you for additional tech support calls, or you can buy Netgear’s extended warranty and support for $49.99 for two years.) And those subscription fees have clearly become a significant part of Netgear’s business model, as its rolled out to pretty much every Wi-Fi product the company makes. It will also be available on future 8K Roku models, though only TCL is making those at the moment. TCL 8K TVs to get the first 8K streaming service.

In the case of Netgear routers, the big win is found in Costco’s tech support offerings, part of Costco’s Concierge Services package. Costco picks up where Netgear’s free customer support leaves off. It’s the same deal for mesh routers. TCL launched its first 8K TVs earlier this year with the TCL Roku TV 6-Series 8K (R648) , but only a few months later, the TV maker has stepped up its game by offering TCL customers the first 8K subscription video service available on smart TVs. And tech products get another boost, with Costco’s Concierge Services , which includes free technical support for everything from TVs and laptops to cable modems and routers.

The TV maker has partnered with The Explorers Foundation, an initiative built around protecting and promoting biodiversity through documenting the planet in all its glory. Especially when you consider all of the other savings and extras you can get with a Costco membership, including the $5 rotisserie chickens. The awesome Wi-Fi 6 model from our Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) review , can be purchased as the Nighthawk EAX18 AX1750 — there’s a minor difference in total throughput, but it’s a minor tweak in the face of the Wi-Fi 6 speeds it offers.

With The Explorers streaming app, TCL is hoping to change that. There’s only one catch to all of this Costco customer service goodness. Up to this point, you’re pretty much stuck with YouTube and Vimeo, which host 8K videos. Pulling from a community of documentarians and filmmakers, The Explorers offers a mix of 8K and 4K content from around the globe.

TCL customers can get a free trial subscription for 3 months, and continuing subscriptions cost $2.99 per month. As a result, Costco winds up being a great choice for anyone hoping to score a great deal on big-ticket electronics. (And it’s been my secret piece of tech buying advice for years.) But it’s still a problem, because whenever your Wi-Fi equipment gets glitchy, it has ripple effects through your entire home. In Netgear’s defense, most Wi-Fi equipment will run mostly maintenance-free once it’s set up, meaning that the majority of tech support issues will come up within the first week or so of ownership. Customer support hack: Skip Netgear’s 90-day support by shopping at Costco.

But the content selection is sparse, the discovery process is lousy and the 8K content available is drowned out by the mountains of other videos the services offer. There’s just one wrinkle in this Netgear/Costco situation, and that’s the fact that Costco carries its own versions of popular Netgear products with their own distinct model numbers. When purchased anywhere else, Netgear offers a scanty 90-day window to get free customer support on any of it’s networking products. Electronics, however, don’t follow the rebranding strategy, since the Samsungs and HPs of the world aren’t interested in offering private label TVs and laptops. The Explorers Foundation gets a portion of the proceeds from this monthly fee, so a subscription is also a great way to support a good cause.

Netgear’s biggest flaw is completely eliminated when you buy Netgear products from Costco. The Editor’s Choice from our Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) review shows up as the Netgear Orbi RBK843S , and the more affordable Netgear Orbi RBK752 becomes the Orbi RBK753S . We’re talking about footage from icy Arctic glaciers to tropical islands of French Polynesia. In both cases, the features and capabilities are just as we saw in our review, but they come with the added bonus of Netgear’s Armor Advanced Cyber Security — a service that normally costs $69.99 after an initial 30-day free trial. You need a membership card to get in the stores (or tag along with someone who does). I’ve used Costco’s tech support service myself, and I’ve always been pleased with the level of service I got — something I can’t claim about every support line I’ve called.

Whether it’s 91 days after buying your device or 11 and a half months, you’ll be enjoying a level of personalized attention that Netgear doesn’t offer without an extra fee. A glance at Costco’s listings for Netgear products will show a lot of familiar faces from our selections of the best Wi-Fi routers and best mesh routers , but with slightly different model numbers. The Explorers platform is devoted to exploring all of Earth, whether that’s nature, culture or human events. Which brings us back to model numbers. In a normal retailer, like Best Buy or Walmart, these unique model numbers would be something like commercial sleight-of-hand, a way to side-step promises of price matching or a means to offer a cheaper product (but usually with cheaper build quality).

You need that same membership card or number to buy at the register or on the Costco website. You have to be a member.


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