I had the three piece wine thief, but it was old and plastic, so when i decided to buy a new one, I noticed my local homebrew shop sells a stainless turkey baster. It doesn't drip any less than the wine thief, but at least I can boil / autoclave it.
With respect to using the ferm-tech to return sample to the fermenter, I think it's more effort than it's worth. I always like to taste my samples.
I also like to taste my samples...and the fermtech makes it quite easy...I just get a shot glass and sanitize it...and just let a little bit out into the shot glass....works just fine..then I bring it back to the fermenter and put the rest back in...