Skip to main content

10-Step Guide to Buying a Used Laptop That Works


Buying second-hand products is always green, but it’s easy to be discouraged by the stories of broken laptops from eBay or Craigslist. To quell these fears, here is a 10-step checklist on how to find a used laptop that isn’t just a high-tech lemon.

Most wouldn’t flinch at the idea of buying a used car, but the thought of a used computer sends them squirming. The tech industry tries their hardest to keep it that way: they advertise new products in such a way to render the previous models perceptually obsolete; they block even the simplest hardware upgrades; and they sell bottom-of-the-line models that simply break within a couple years.
12
votesBuzz up!

This shouldn’t scare you away from a used computer purchase, but know that they are imperfect machines; some research, determination, and basic knowledge is required. To make this list, I used both my own experience along with some tips from Peter Montesano of Peter’s PC Repair, one of the most highly regarded repair shops in San Francisco.

* » See also: Any Good News? Yep… in Ode Magazine
* » Get Sustainablog by RSS or sign up by email.

Step 1: The Decision - Finding The Best Used Laptop

Decide what computer you want and then change your mind. Like most people, you probably dream of the newest, hottest thing on the market—maybe a Macbook Air or Dell’s new Studio Hybrid? No. Instead, check out some of the best computers from last year or earlier this year. These are the laptops you should choose from in the used market—and generally, they’ll perform the same tasks that this year’s models do. As an added bonus, you can try to find a computer from 2007 with Windows XP installed instead of Vista!
Step 2: Where to Buy

Determine where you will buy your computer. There are four options: eBay, Craigslist, local dealers, and straight from the manufacturer. Buying refurbished models from the manufacturer or a local dealer is often more expensive, but they’ll come with attached warranties that will calm your worried hearts. The remaining two options are a bit trickier, but also cheaper. If you plan to use eBay, make sure to find a seller with no less than 100% feedback rating. If the computer arrives broken, a seller with a flawless rating will happily allow a return in order to prevent negative feedback—that’s the beauty of eBay. For a Craigslist exchange, make sure to arrange a public meeting spot like a coffee shop where you can inspect the computer fully before purchasing.
Step 3: Cracks and Imperfections

Now you need to check for damage. First check for cosmetic issues—and then realize that it doesn’t matter whatsoever. As long as the computer still works, that little chip on the bottom corner will not be a problem. But if you’d like, you can try to get a few bucks knocked off the price because of it.
Step 4: No Purple Haze

One of the most expensive things to replace on a laptop is the screen. Check for any purple or pink discoloration, and if you find any, send the computer back. It’s not worth the hassle or cost of repairs.
Step 5: Testing the Inputs

Check all plugs, sockets, and wireless connections like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Many of these are attached to the motherboard, which is costly to replace. If one USB port is broken and you can live with the other three, then do it. If the headphone jack is broken but you have Bluetooth headphones anyway, then rejoice.
Step 6: Check for a Faulty Hard Drive.

Test the hard drive(s) for errors and remember that replacement drives are generally cheap.
Step 7: Check for a Faulty CD Drive

Try burning all types of media that the drive should support—CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD+R DL, etc.
Step 8: Test the Battery Life

Read as many of my posts on Green Options as you can until the computer’s battery dies. If goes out too fast, try to get the seller to discount the price to make up for the cost of a replacement battery, which can often carry a big price tag.
Step 9: Seek Help

If you don’t want to do all these tests yourself or you want an expert opinion, most repair places would not charge more than $80 for a complete diagnostic check-up. When your used computer cost less than half the original retail price, $80 isn’t much.
Step 10: Wrap it up

For eBay buyers, don’t leave feedback until you’ve checked everything out. If there are any major problems, do not be afraid to return the computer.

Don’t get frustrated if everything isn’t perfect right from the start. Remember that people have problems with their brand new computers pretty often as well. Even if you have to fork up some money for small repairs or upgrades, rest assured that your decision was environmentally and economically sound.
Written by Alex Felsinger on Substanablog
Published on September 21st, 2008

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Golden Age for Cheapskates

In a Lousy Economy, People Dig a Bit Deeper to Turn Up Deals
By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 19, 2009

Last fall, the Woodbine, Md., mother of three figured out a great way to get some: online giveaways. She has entered about 40 so far. She has won T-shirts, cleaning products, a small portable vacuum, olive oil, beef jerky and -- best of all -- a Nintendo DS on Web sites such as http://MeTime.com, http://TheMotherhood.com and http://5minutesformom.com.

"The lure of free stuff is quite appealing," she said. "I never considered myself a winner. I don't think I ever won bingo. My name was never drawn from a hat. However, I've been extraordinarily successful at the giveaways."

The recession has emboldened a certain kind of consumer: The mooch. With dwindling retirement savings, a higher cost of living and wobbly job market, they don't just want discounts on items they used to pay full price for without a second thought. They want freebi…

THE ANCIENT SHIP APPEARS AGAIN AT SHORT SANDS YORK BEACH MAINE

A RECENT NOR EASTER HIT THE NEW ENGLAND COAST AND AS THOUGHT THIS WRECK SURFACED AGAIN FROM ITS BURIED DEMISE--The skeleton only appears periodically - the last time was in 2013 - always after a significant coastal storm, and always attracting attention. Archaeological work conducted in 1980 indicated the wreck is a sloop of about Revolutionary War age. It is likely a “pinky,” a type of vessel with a high, narrow stern and square rigging easily maneuverable along the coast of Maine. Pinkies were popular as fishing and cargo vessels. The first sighting of the skeleton was in 1958, and then it has surfaced periodically right up to the present day - and usually after a good spring nor’easter. Word spread quickly about this sighting via social media, and people came over the weekend and on Monday as well. First, they had to navigate the seaweed- and rock-strewn streets of York Beach. They were also precluded from parking cars in most of the Ellis Park lot, which was buried under a layer …

CREATE YOUR OWN MOSAIC

I've always felt a special fascination for mosaics. From Roman tile compositions to current digital collages, I think they're an awesome artistic expression.
That's why I was so happy when I found Andreamosaic.
This tool enables you to create amazing mosaics from your digital pictures in a very easy way.
It requires having a large collection of photos to use as tiles, that's true. Fortunately the installation file already includes a pack of 500 sample photos that produce excellent results.
The program's interface is quite dull; in fact it's simply a gray window with too much text on it. But the mechanics are easy to understand so you'll be creating your own mosaics in no time!
Plus, the program includes a 20-page manual that explains everything thoroughly. Just remember that the more tiles you use, the longer it will take to generate the mosaic and the larger the final file will be.

BY ELENA SANTOS CREATE YOUR OWN MOSAIC

How To Create A Photo Mosaic In Photos…