So your old machine died on you and you can’t afford a new one, huh? Or maybe you’re using a desktop Mac or PC, and you want something to take on the road and don’t want the tiny screen and keyboard that come with a modern netbook.
No problem! For netbook prices you can get a machine that’s got a decently-sized screen, and a comfortable keyboard to boot. Just buy a refurbished laptop! There are plenty of places that sell them, most notably eBay, just use your favorite search engine to find more! But how to make sure that you don’t get a lemon?
Know what you need
You’re probably not planning on gaming or anything, if you’re buying a refurb notebook. So pretty much any laptop made within the last five years will likely be able to run the software that you need it to.
Are there specific features you need, though? For instance, if you want to watch DVDs it’d help to buy a notebook that has a working combo drive. It’ll also help to know how big of a screen you need for your laptop. And of course, if you’re a Mac or Linux user you’ll want to look into iBooks or IBM Thinkpads, respectively. If you want to do programming, a laptop with powerful processor will be the best programming laptop for you.
Do your Homework
So you’ve picked out a refurbished laptop you like. But wait! What have people said about those specific machines? Are there any reviews or anything?
Open up your favorite search engine and look up the exact name of your laptop’s brand and model, plus the word review. Pay close attention to what the reviewers say. Also look to see if there are any commonly-reported defects or lingering problems. Apple’s iBook series is infamous for its logic board failures, for instance, although there are reportedly workarounds for them.
If you’re a power user, you may also want to look up benchmarks to compare the machine you’re considering to another one that you’re familiar with. Netbook performance makes a good benchmark, since you can try out netbooks at the store and they’re basically all identical specification-wise. If you are looking for notebook for college task, you should compare a few notebooks and get the best Notebook computer for college students.
Make backup plans
A warranty is a good start. Check to see what the reseller covers for how long, and consider picking up an extended warranty from SquareTrade. Read the fint print, though, because there are a lot of things even SquareTrade won’t cover, and their warranties don’t go into effect for sixty days last I checked. They also don’t cover anything made more than five years ago.
Beyond that, though, what are you going to do if something breaks down? Do you have an external keyboard or mouse you could use if some of the parts die on you? What if the monitor starts flickering, or the hard drive gives out? Prepare now to make frequent backups of your files, just in case. And remember, just because one component gives way it doesn’t mean that your laptop’s unfixable. In the case of the iBook’s logic board problems, for instance, a lot of people have figured out workarounds for it, and posted instructions online. And with the use of things like external keyboards and monitors, you can extend the life of an old laptop computer by putting it to use as a desktop notebook.
Is this all a bit of a hassle? Maybe. But then, they’re all things you should do when buying any new notebook! You should just be extra-careful when buying a refurbished laptop, because they’ve seen lots of wear already.
Anyway, good luck with your shopping and have fun with your new refurbished laptop!