In the 20-some years I've had a Velux skylight in, the controller died twice at the cost of over $200 each to replace (well, actually, I haven't replaced it the second time). I think the first one was free under warranty, think that ran out at 10-years, but need to check.
I've got a power venetian blind on the thing as well as the opener. It sits up about 2-stories at the end of a stairwell, so a manual pole would have been a pain. I think the thing that may be blowing the controller up is the moisture sensor that sits outside on the roof. It's nice since when it senses it is raining, it will shut the window, so you can leave it and feel fairly safe you won't flood the interior (assuming you don't also lose power in the storm!). I guess I need to look into replacing it. It only gets opened in the knee seasons, otherwise heating or cooling have it closed. Nice to be able to open the blind though!
The hassle with the manual is you have to store the pole handle somewhere, and in my case, it would have needed to be about 15' long. On one you can reach with a short handle, it's not as big of a push, one way or the other.