Buying a second hand Laptop
Technology changes very quickly as does the needs of most computer users. Keeping up with technology can be an expensive proposition but there is another option, buying a used laptop.
There are many good used laptops on the market for several reasons. Most businesses lease their laptops and exchange them every three years or less. As technology improves many people find that their current laptops are not up to par and thus exchange them for newer ones. And sometimes laptops get damaged and then are re-sold after they have been refurbished.
Depending upon the history of the laptop you are considering the purchase of, the reduced warranty may not be of much concern. The biggest sellers of used laptops are corporations and they do their homework before making purchasing decisions. Corporations tend to purchase durable equipment that is powerful and easily repaired. Also, the employees tend to take good care of the equipment that the are using since it is an important part of their job. This means you are purchasing good dependable equipment that has been well maintained.
When shopping for a used laptop the first thing to do is to determine your needs. If you do not do much work on a laptop other than surfing the web and sending a few emails, then a 700MHz processor will be fine. If you wish to play some of the newer games or photo editing then you will want a 1GHz or faster processor. The hard drive should have a minimum of 20GB available space but the more you can get the better. Try to ensure that the other drive is a CD or DVD burner. This will not only be very useful but will increase the amount of available space for storing files by using a reWritable disk.
Power usage is a major concern especially if you intend to use the laptop in a mobile setting. Lithium ion batteries are your best option. If possible test the battery to ensure that it can power the laptop for at least 1 1/2 hours when running various applications. If possible seek out laptops that have 2 batteries.
The last thing to consider is the system RAM and the video chips and RAM as well as wireless networking capabilities. The amount of system RAM will vary depending. Generally speaking you should seek as much as possible. 256MBs would be a minimum if you are using Windows 2000 and 512MBs for Windows XP. The video chip ATI Rage Pro or Rage 128 with at least 32MBs of RAM, 64MBs if you plan on playing video games. You may be able to share some of your system RAM with the video chip to increase the amount of available RAM.
After you have identified a laptop that will suit your needs you should carefully inspect it for any signs of damage. The first place to look signs of damage is the corners of the laptop. Dropping a laptop may not damage it but cracks in the case can be fatal as part mount directly to the case. Also of extremely high importance is the screen. There should be no signs of scratches or nicks. Minor scratches from cleaning are reasonable but may get annoying.
Next you need to check the cooling systems, power systems and operation of the laptop. Run the laptop as long as the seller will let you off the batteries. The charge on the battery should not deplete too quickly; for example it should not be down to a 1/2 charge after running for 40 minutes. Plug the power adapter in and wiggle it a little. If the laptop switches between battery and AC while gently wiggling the adapter then the adapter may be damaged. Open a word processing application and test all of the keys on the keyboard as well as the mouse.
Finally you test the over al operation of the laptop by playing a movie off the optical drive. There should not be any squeaking noises and the movie should not skip or hesitate. Feel the case of the laptop to see how hot it is getting. While heat is normal on a laptop, excessive heat may be the sign of a problem and reduce the life of your laptop.
Buying a used laptop can be a very good and affordable way to get a laptop. By doing a little extra work to determine your needs you will quickly identify a unit that is suitable for all of your current needs and can handle some increased needs as well. Once you do find a suitable unit, carefully inspect it for any signs of damage to ensure the longest life possible. Doing these things will ensure you get the best value possible and have a trouble free laptop.