Hot Tech Gifts in 2012: How to Choose Refurbished Electronics


Home / Hot Tech Gifts in 2012: How to Choose Refurbished Electronics

It’s new to you, but is that refurbished computer a good deal for the money? Image by leocub

You want to buy that special person in your life a new smartphone, tablet, PC, netbook, or laptop, but how can you tell if you’re getting a good deal?

Some of the prices are very low this year, and you can get amazing deals on refurbished items directly from the manufacturer, but there are a few areas in particular that you should always watch out for – namely the warranty and the age of the device.

What Does ‘Refurbished’ Mean, Anyway?

A refurbished item has been returned to the manufacturer and then tested prior to being put back on the shelf.

Yes, that means the item isn’t new, it’s ‘used’ – or ‘pre-owned’ – and someone else has already played with it, operated it, opened it, touched it, etc.

If any of that that bothers you, you’re better off simply purchasing a new item.

You can get refurbished items at a huge discount over the newer models, but the testing only goes so far – and since it’s necessarily an older device, it’s potentially more likely to break down sooner than a brand new device.

The type of use can also be a sticking point – and you will never know if that laptop was a display unit or if it was a lease-return, and as a result, will never know the amount and type of use the device has undergone. Obviously a more heavily-used item won’t last as long, but there’s no way to find that out before you purchase.

How long will that refurbished device last? Image by ilco

Warranty on Refurbished Electronics

Most refurbished items come with a decent warranty – Apple, for example, provides a 1 year limited warranty with all refurbished items, as well as the option to buy a more extensive warranty. Always check out the specific warranty for the item you will be purchasing, because some ‘limited’ warranties are more limited than others.

Older Devices: Why Does Age Matter?

If it’s been fully tested and fixed up by highly-trained technicians at the manufacturer, and for all you know has just been sitting on a shelf for two years, what difference does it make if it’s ‘refurbished’ or just plain new? The difference is in the capabilities of the device. Technology improves at light speed – but if your ‘new’ device is several years old it’ll already be behind the times before you even start adding software or apps. It’s easy to tell if the device’s capabilities are up to standards – measure them against other, more current, devices.

Buying New-ish Electronics: What Specs to Check

Which specs should you check on that refurbished device? Always check memory and processor speed, if nothing else. Between the RAM and GHz you can learn a lot about any computer, but don’t forget to make sure that any of your specific needs are addressed by the device.

Are you buying for someone who loves to take photos? Check out the camera’s megapixel count. More isn’t always better, but in most cases a higher MP count will result in better images.

If in doubt, ask someone with similar interests what their preferences are, and look for a device that’s similar – but don’t forget to compare prices with both new and refurbished items. During holiday sales, you may be able to find a brand-new item for comparable prices, without the potential problems associated with refurbished devices.

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