I think it is pretty obvious that I am a bit of a Gear snob… I know you all aren’t surprised if you have read any of my posts before or know me personally. But with my strong opinion I usually cringe when Churches or facilities purchase gear that I think is sub par or that I know won’t last / easily grow out of. But I had a new realization recently that this gear isn’t all bad. At NAB this year I got to talking to a lot of people who said, “I currently have gear X and we have out grown it” or Gear Y just broke and we want something that will last now that we know this is what we want to do.” It made me realize that this cheaper gear in most cases just leads to better gear… hence the term “Gateway Gear.”
Here are 4 things you need to know about gateway gear:
1: Gateway gear allows for testing time
If you ever want to try something new, or implement a whole new system but aren’t sure if it is right for your facility, then Gateway gear might be the way to go. Because of the low cost in nature you can try things for far less money before you commit to them. Once you decided you want to go down a certain path you can replace these lower cost components with better, more reliable components that may get rid of some issues you were living with.
2: Gateway gear leads to bigger gear
Gateway gear usually has many limitations that may include flexibility, longevity, latency, and more. For some facilities these things may not be an issue therefore never needing anything but gateway gear. But most facilities will outgrow gateway gear in only a few years needing to put in better components that do more. This is common when installing a new system to not be sure how you want to use it, but once you figure out how you want to use your system you will quickly realize that you have outgrown your system, thus the need to replace gateway gear with better gear later on.
3: Gateway gear can be dangerous
Because of the low cost nature of Gateway gear it can be easy once you realize you have out grown it to buy more gateway gear and to try and make it transform into better gear by tying it all together. This doesn’t necessarily increase you flexibility or your longevity but only fixes a temporary problem. And when things change, and they always do, you may be in the same position you were before adding more gear to the situation where you would have been better off replacing everything. It is easy to cloud your judgment with gateway gear thinking it is good enough or we will just buy “X” to fix “Z.” You end up digging yourself a hole that becomes increasingly hard to get out of. It’s important to know when you need to move on from gateway gear.
4: Gateway gear may cost more in the long run
When you do finally decide to replace gateway gear with better gear you are paying more overall. Let’s say the life span for most systems is on average 10-15 years. Gateway gear has a lifespan on average of 2-3 years (again because of longevity and that it can be out grown easily), you end up spending more money in a shorter amount of time than if you jumped right to the better gear. Keep in mind some times Management needs to see the small investment first before they can dive into a bigger investment to make sure it’s the path they want to go. There is usually no way to truly avoid spending money twice.
If you must invest in gateway gear from the beginning just know what you are getting into. I definitely think there can be good reasons to go the gateway gear route as long as you understand what it means.