Every day, I’m updated with tech news about the latest phones, tablets, and laptops. Most of these items cost hundreds to thousands of dollars when bought brand new from major retailers like Best Buy and Target, or online outlets such as Amazon. For the longest, however, my electronics selection has been refurbished. With the exception of my cellphones (of which I purchase new, mid-range models at affordable prices), the selection of my laptops and tablets have been refurbished models, ever since I purchased my first ThinkPad in 2003. For the most part, while they aren’t technological juggernauts (I wouldn’t recommend gaming on a Compaq Presario), for every day tasks, they get the job done, especially with things such as word processing and (surprisingly) music production. So, why do I recommend getting your electronics refurbished?
Refurbished electronics can save you a lot of money if you know what to look for and where to look. Before I knew about how to search for the best bargains in used and refurbished electronics, I was pretty much window shopping at your average mom & pop store along 6th Ave in Manhattan. These guys would sell trash-tier electronics for the price one could get a brand-new baseline laptop or tablet at Staples or Best Buy. Sure enough, I figured out how to shop around local spots and even conventions. My go-to was the Marketpro Computer Shows, back when they used to visit The Bronx and White Plains. You could get a decent laptop for anywhere from $100 to $300, and that was before getting optional hard drive and memory upgrades, which were also affordable.
In more recent years, I’ve been able to find even better bargains on websites such as eBay. I purchased my first Samsung Chromebook through an eBay retailer for $50, and it works like new, with an exceptional battery life. I also visited a Canadian retailer site, Refurbio (refurb.io), for my latest laptop purchase, a Lenovo ThinkPad R61, which only cost me $60 with full software and hard drive upgrades. I’ve been passing along the word to my family and friends even since, especially hearing how many of them have dealt with not being able to afford replacement tech on short notice.
People assume that refurbished products lack in quality, but trust me. In the right hands, refurbished tech can last as long as brand new products. Before my latest laptop purchase, I had purchased a Compaq Presario CQ56 laptop for $200 from a local pawnshop. Do you know how long that laptop lasted me? 10 years. That’s right, a full decade before I’d need a replacement. 10 years of photo editing, music production, MAME arcade action, and the occasional DVD viewing.However, don’t assume that refurbished tech doesn’t require maintenance. The reason my Presario lasted so long was because I knew how to care for it. That meant the proper anti-virus software, making sure I avoided overheating (external fan add-ons can be extremely helpful if you know the right type to use), and not doing anything that would push the hardware to its limits, such as online gaming. Don’t worry, there are better refurbished laptops and towers out there for gamers too, but they also need the proper TLC if you want longevity.
Refurbished tablets are also reliable if you know what to look for. 9 times out of 10, you’ll end up finding a solid refurbished tablet on eBay (though you can get even better deals on JemJem if you absolutely need an iPad). I purchased a Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 through eBay for $60, and, despite an annoying air bubble in the screen, it works well. Don’t worry, though. Other refurbished tablets may have their visual blemishes, but when it comes to functionality, they’re as satisfactory as new tablets. Just be sure to read the retailer descriptions before any purchases.
When you use a refurbished product, believe it or not, you’re doing your part in preserving the ecosystem. New computers and tablets require new parts, which are made from newly made plastic, steel, and other substances that fill up our landfills. When you purchase a refurbished piece of tech, that’s one more laptop, tablet, or cellphone that doesn’t end up in a landfill. Electronic waste is harder to recycle because of the parts it takes to make up the entire machine. You wouldn’t recycle an LCD screen the same way you would recycle a CPU or a heat sink. So, when you buy a refurbished laptop, that’s one less motherboard, one less chassis, and one less keyboard in the junkyard.
Also, one person’s piece of old, dated hardware can come in handy for the next person. The $60 ThinkPad R61 that I’m using to update this very blog at this moment originally retailed at $1,200 upon its release in 2007. That alone hinted at the quality I was purchasing. And as it turns out, I’m not alone in discovering the benefits of this particular laptop’s longevity. After a quick search of YouTube vids, I found that quite a few computer science majors and tech repair specialists have purchased used ThinkPad R61s to upgrade and customize for their needs. So while it may not be the flavor of the month, that refurbished piece of tech may be the workhorse that you never realized you needed.
Keep This In Mind
Refurbished tech may not be for everyone, but it will benefit those who look into making the purchase. A few things to keep in mind: make sure that the retailer you’re buying your tech from is certified (i.e. Microsoft Certified, Apple Certified, etc.). Anytime you purchase a refurbished piece of tech that has been certified by its respective company, you are getting a seal of quality that you won’t get from a non-licensed third party. Also, make sure that a warranty is included, whether it’s a 90-day or 1-year warranty. If for any reason your product is defective or malfunctions after you purchase it, you want to make sure that it can be repaired or replaced at no cost to you. Finally, research the product before hand. The last thing you want to do is purchase a tablet that will explode in your hands or a laptop that will burn your lap. Look up articles or video reviews that will give you the gist of what you’re about to buy. In the end, quality is everything, refurbished or not.