Yeah. I think I spent $120 on the e3 flasher limited, after shipping. But I have been charging people to downgrade their ps3, so it has more than paid for itself.
You can get the e3 that doesn't come with the esata station for cheaper.
Progskeet ends up being about the same price after you get the solderless clip.
You will also need a downgrade dongle. Like the e3 card reader, which is like $9.95. Unless you have a psp that can be downgraded to 5.50. There is an app called ps3jig, which will work as a downgrade dongle.
I guess the alternative would be to buy a ps3 that is already on 3.55 or lower. Or if you can find someone in your area to downgrade it for u.