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  • Writer's pictureBurton Kelso, Tech Expert

Should I Purchase Refurbished Technology for Holiday Gifts?

Whether you're a fan of electronic gadgets or just a fan of saving money, ads for refurbished products will probably stand out to you this holiday season. When you're doing your holiday shopping you can get even better with something refurbished than you could new with a Black Friday or Cyber Monday deal. Purchasing refurbished computers, smartphones, and tablets is a great way to save money on technology. I haven't purchased a new tablet, desktop, or laptop computer in over 10 years (smartphones are a different story). I know there are some of you who wouldn't think of purchasing second-hand tech as you see those purchases as being risky and that you should stick with only purchasing new technology. Paying for something new has its advantages, but if it's not in your budget you should really consider purchasing used gadgets. Here are some of my top tips to help you get the right products when you're looking for refurbished and secondhand technology.

There are several ways you can purchase older technology. You can find them listed on a sold by consumer websites such as Amazon ( Craigslist ( Facebook Marketplace (, Gazelle ( or you can go directly to a computer manufacturer such as Apple (, Dell (, or Samsung ( 

When you purchase items from a consumer seller website, you have to trust that the person selling the item is being honest about the condition of the device they listed. Most people who list items are honest, but there are times that you need to verify that someone is selling a working item or you have to consult with a tech-knowledgeable friend to find out if the gadget is worth the purchase price. When you purchase these devices they come 'as is' and there is usually no warranty if the device fails right after you purchase it.

When you purchase items from computer manufacturers, you are dealing with devices that were initially shipped out as new but were found to be defective. The defects are repaired and work like new. These items go through a rigorous series of tests before they are listed to be sold. If something happens to your computer or device, you probably will have a limited warranty that allows you to get the device repaired or replaced at no charge. You might also pay slightly more than you would from a consumer seller.

What to look for when purchasing second-hand technology. Doesn't matter if you're purchasing items from a consumer seller or computer manufacturer, here is a list of questions that you should always ask:

  • What condition is the computer or device in?

  • Does it come with all original accessories and documentation?

  • What operating system does it currently have on it and is it upgradable?

  • How was the device used before?

  • What kind of warranty does it have?

I have purchased secondhand and refurbished devices from both consumers and computer manufacturers and have experienced success with both. If you don't know anything about technology or don't have easy access to a computer guru, I recommend looking at the manufacturers first. Buying from them means that you are more likely to get a higher standard of refurbishment which equals worry-free purchasing. When you purchase from a consumer, there are a lot of things you need to know in advance. People aren't always forthcoming about how good the condition of the actual product is or if it can be upgraded. Consumers are more focused on making a purchase, whereas computer manufacturers have a reputation to keep. Also, with manufacturing purchases, you can contact them if you have problems with a purchased product whereas with a consumer, you might not be able to get in contact with them once the item has been purchased.

What items should you avoid buying refurbished? Most tech items such as desktops, laptops, flat-screen TVs, flat-screen monitors, cameras, microphones, gaming systems, and most tech gadgets can be purchased second-hand. Items like Ink Jet printers, tablets, eReaders, fitness trackers, and spare computer parts are items you need to really need to purchase new. It's okay if you were gifted these items by a family member, but spending money on these older pieces of technology is something I wouldn't do. Items like inkjet printers tablets and fitness trackers weren't designed for long life. These items fall into the category of 'disposable technology' as they are designed to be replaced after a period of time (normally two years).

Computers and their associated gadgets are expensive. With the latest computers and laptops costing upwards of a thousand dollars or more, smartphones can easily be upwards of $1500, and a good printer could run you several hundred bucks, buying second-hand gadgets is always a good option.

I hope these tips help you pick out the right refurbished gift for your friends and family. This holiday season, get that special gift for the ones you love or even yourself by shopping for refurbished computers, laptops, and other electronics.

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