But there’s a new major investment facing budgeters more and more. The one thing we can’t seem to live without as Americans, no matter who we are: Computers.
Remember the feeling you had last time you brought a new one home? It was so shiny, you wanted to take a bite out of it. It was SOOOO fast. But today, you’re sitting in the hazy glow of the old thing, and it looks more like your mother-in-law than the sleek home of your motherboard. It’s probably all dinged up now. And sometimes it sounds more like it’s trying to blast off than boot up.
Fear not. A new computer is well within your reach… Well, maybe not “new,” but it will be just as good from your perspective. It will be fast. It will be what you need. And it will also be completely overhauled, though it might not be quite as shiny.
Here are a few facts to consider when debating the purchase of a refurbished laptop computer, as well as some tips on how to do it successfully:
Newer isn’t always better.
The thought is hard to shake. If I buy it new, it will be BETTER. Not so, when it comes to laptop computers. In fact, a refreshed piece of hardware can be so good Apple even sells refurbished iPhones. Likewise, Dell sells refurbished laptops. With new computers coming out faster than technology is advancing, there’s plenty of opportunity to get a good machine — think of it like a day-old loaf of bread that’s just as fresh. Just because you can no longer see a commercial for it on television doesn’t mean it’s not going to be exactly the upgrade you need. If treated well, there’s no reason a refurbished laptop won’t last just as long as a new one.
There are way more distributors selling used computers.
If the companies you’d trust to buy a new computer from are finding profits by re-selling their own products, it should follow that there are other distributors out there looking to make you a better deal in an effort to get in on the market. Many of them, big and small, are selling their computers on eBay. In fact, there’s so much competition there, it’s a great place to shop for a used computer of any variety. Of course, eBay allows users to rank their interactions with sellers, so people trying to make a business out of selling refurbished computers will have plenty of incentive to treat you properly — look for a high rating (in the upper 90s) when you’re shopping. You can also try massive re-sellers like TigerDirect.com and MacMall.com. I’ve had good experiences with both of those, personally.
It’s what’s inside that matters.
Remember when your mom told you not to judge a book by its cover? She may have been talking about netbooks, MacBooks and other laptop computers. As exciting as that shiny new computer can be, a few dings and scratches can de-value a barely-used laptop by hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Although I once met a computer re-conditioner who had the shells of his refurbished laptops dipped in car paint at a local body shop before re-assembling them so they’d look shiny, the outward appearance should be the least of your concerns. Make sure you talk to a friend before ordering who can at least tell you what you’ll need in terms of memory (RAM) and hard drive (disk space). That buddy will likely point out that, unless you’re running memory-intensive programs like video editing software, a basic, re-conditioned laptop will get the job done. If you no what you are looking for from a new computer, there’s no reason you can’t find the same technology in a refurbished one.
Get a warranty.
Warranties on used computers come in all shapes and sizes, but having one is a must. In some cases, your “new” computer might even still be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. When your new laptop arrives, make sure all the jacks work; none of the plugs should wiggle in their sockets. Make sure every key on the machine works. In fact, check that the keys still have a lot of spring to them. (If it’s a PC, you may be able to notice marks near the edge of they keyboard that indicate it’s been replaced. Not a problem.) Check the system’s components to make sure it has been completely wiped of extraneous files and applications. Make sure it connects to the Internet properly and that the battery stays charged as long as it should. Is it running the operating system you told the re-seller you wanted? When you pull it out of the box, focus on the performance of your refreshed computer and you’ll be able to tell if you got a raw deal. Get a 30- or 90-day warranty, and you should have plenty of time to see if your everyday computer behavior is going to be too much for the system.
A laptop computer can be just as good used as it is new, and foregoing a perfect exterior can save you money. Be patient when shopping, and you should be able to find exactly what you need. Key on components and make sure it functions properly when you get it.
For an even better deal, you can try reaching out to a re-seller who seems reputable and ask them for a custom-build. If your idea is to stay within a budget and get the most value out of the money you spend, it shouldn’t mean missing out on a great piece of hardware. Buying it refurbished is a great way to ensure that happens.
What are your tips for buying a refurbished laptop computer?
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