Overall, refurbished laptops are safe and okay to use. The key is to purchase them from trusted retailers, such as the manufacturer or well-known technology retailers, who thoroughly test the laptops before selling them. In many cases, outlet laptops are refurbished models, which may also be called manufacturer-reconditioned. These laptops are cheaper than new counterparts, making them popular alternatives to buying new. Essentially, refurbished means flaws have been repaired and the unit is once again ready to use.
The refurbishing process depends on what was originally wrong with the laptop. Some laptops listed as refurbished were never used at all, such as custom orders that were canceled or obsolete store models. In this case, the model may or may not be tested before being sold and will be in the original packaging. True refurbished laptops are models returned to the manufacturer due to a defect. In this case, the laptop is put back through the production process and tested for any flaws. Problems are repaired through new hardware components or software. For certified refurbished products, the laptop must meet the original factory specifications with no obvious problems before being sold.
The warranty depends on the manufacturer. Most offer the original limited hardware warranty as if the laptop was purchased new. For instance, Apple provides the same one-year warranty for refurbished laptops as it does for new models. Some manufacturers also offer a no-questions-asked return period so you can thoroughly test the laptop yourself to check for any flaws. Third-party retailers may not offer a warranty unless they are official resellers for specific manufacturers. For a true deal, buy refurbished laptops with a warranty.
The word “refurbished” doesn't always mean huge savings. Refurbished laptops may be outdated models, so you won't be getting the latest hardware. In other cases, the refurbished model may have better specs than a comparable new model because of upgrades. Take the time to compare prices between new laptops and refurbished models. Often, manufacturers list the savings based upon the model's original list price. This price may no longer be valid, meaning your savings are not as great as you thought. Savings can range from less than $50 to several hundred depending on manufacturer, age of the laptop and amount of refurbishing.
If you want a custom model, refurbs are not the right option. Refurbished laptops are preconfigured with certain hardware and software specifications. If you want to change something, you'll have to do so after receiving the laptop, which increases the overall cost. Sometimes you may not receive the original manual or the same configuration as a new model. Check for a full list of refurbished specifications to see what hardware may have changed. You may not always find the exact specs you want. Options are limited, and you may have to settle for outdated laptops when choosing refurbished over new.
Some refurbished laptops have cosmetic damage. This could result from problems during production, shipping or prior use. Severe external damage should be avoided as it could lead to future internal damage to hardware. Minor scratches and dents may mean nothing at all is wrong with the laptop itself. If there is cosmetic damage, confirm the laptop has been through a certified testing process and comes with a warranty.
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