By Nick Kania • July 02, 2015
You may have noticed that technology is rapidly improving, with devices getting smaller in size and greater in capability. The better things get, the faster they get better, but innovation comes at a cost. Packing such powerful components into small packages means that things like phones, laptops, and tablets can wear massive price tags.
Given the situation, specifically with laptops, you may be considering the purchase of something “refurbished,” which can greatly lower the bill on a really nice computer. Often, this is taken to mean that the product is “used.” Since used is an incredibly general term, products can range from heavily scratched to barely unboxed, making the search for the right refurbished laptop feel very complicated. Never fear! As discount lovers ourselves, we’ve compiled our research of the pros and cons to consider when buying a refurbished laptop to help decide if it’s right for you.
As I said before, there is really no standard definition of what can be called a “refurbished” product. Whether it’s an individual eBay seller’s beat up laptop with a wiped hard drive, or it’s a pristine Dell whose box was merely opened, a huge range of laptops fall under the refurbished label. This muddles things for you, the buyer, who must do research in order to make sure you’re getting a laptop of at least moderate quality.
Refurbished laptops can come with different forms of damage. To begin with, the battery on a refurbished laptop can be deteriorated. Individual sellers may not guarantee that the battery even works, and if they do, it doesn’t necessarily have to hold a long charge.
The laptop can also show physical damage on the body and screen, even if it’s from a reputable company. It is important for you to return a refurbished product immediately if you are unsatisfied with any damage.
A refurbished laptop may not have the best warranty, sometimes not extending beyond 30 days. Buying from a reliable retailer or from a name brand (e.g. Dell, Apple) can offer a much better warranty, but the laptop will undoubtedly cost more.
You, the buyer, are forced to consider how much a trustworthy seller is worth to you. Buying from an individual seller can save additional money, but has the potential to cost more in the long run if things go awry.
Although we’ve just berated you with the possible downsides of buying a refurbished laptop, it is important to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Refurbished laptops bought from established retailers have damages and returns covered by a guarantee. Moreover, many online retailers back purchases for a set period of time, meaning the device can be returned for any reason, no questions asked.
Those who like Windows machines can celebrate even more, as Dell and Lenovo have several categories of “refurbished” to choose from. Among these, there are those laptops with heavy exterior wear (but manufacturer-checked internals) and those which were simply unboxed, neatly separated for customer convenience.
Consider this: a new Dell Chromebook with an 11.6’ screen and 2 GB of RAM memory can cost $249.00 new. A Chromebook with the same specifications that falls under the “certified refurbished” category can be had for $199.99. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like too much saved. However, $50.00 can contribute a significant amount to peripherals (mouse, keyboard, etc.) and other accessories!
It may seem like there are many dangers in buying a refurbished laptop, and for the uninformed buyer, there certainly are. However, it is important to remember that the main reason for buying a refurbished laptop is also its biggest pro – you save awesome amounts of money. Even if you buy a high-spec laptop that was never powered on straight from Dell, you’re still saving a bunch when compared to buying new. If you plan on buying a refurbished laptop, I absolutely say go for it. Just make sure you’ve done your studying beforehand.
Nick Kania Nick is our summer editorial intern who attends St. John’s University and lives in Brooklyn, New York. You’ll likely find him drinking his third cup of coffee somewhere, thinking about faraway places and how to get there.