Apr 062012

Not everyone wants to spend too much on a brand new or top of the line laptop, fortunately there are many cheap laptops available. Wondering what the difference is between refurbished and recertified? Below will explain and offer some tips when buying these laptops.

Refurbished Laptops

These are practically better than new, usually a customer has returned the product after using it briefly and deciding it’s not exactly what they wanted or the laptop may be an off-lease if it is a much older model.

Buying a refurbished laptop can possibly be better than buying new because flaws have been found and fixed by the manufacturer and once it is deemed to be in good working order it is repackaged to be sold at a lower price.

The warranty on refurbished laptops can vary widely from 90 days to 3 years(including extended warranties). Check the warranty conditions when buying a refurbished laptop.

If the laptop is a much older model sold as refurbished, check to see if the battery is the original or has been replaced. A 2-3 year old battery may be on its last legs even though it still holds a good charge.

Beware of is stores or retailers listing or selling returned items as refurbished when it hasn’t been looked at by the manufacturer or a certified repair/warranty center for that model/brand. Returned items should actually be labelled “open box” or “used” or something similar depending on how old the item is.

Recertified Laptops

Recertified usually means the product was returned unused for various reasons such as shipping error or incomplete transaction(not accepted on delivery). The manufacturer inspects for damage and missing items and offers them as recertified.

Although recertified laptops can be considered “like new” the warranty period may not be as long compared to a new one. There are times where resellers may used recertified and refurbished interchangeably, either way these laptops should have been tested little more thoroughly than a brand new one to be labelled this way.

Budget Laptops

New laptops made with fewer features or slower/smaller/older components but carry the important longer warranties available with new purchases. Components may include:

  • Smaller and/or slower hard drives
  • Slower range of mobile processors (Core i3, Celeron, Atom, Sempron, V series)
  • Less RAM
  • Smaller screen size such as 10 inch or 12 inch

These type of laptops make great tools because of these components, they are also usually thin, light, and have long battery life.

Used Laptops

Although there are great deals when buying used laptops, you must keep an eye out for a few things. The saying “if it is too good to be true…” should be kept in mind.


When buying from an individual person the laptop will likely not have any type of warranty or a very weak warranty that goes only as far as working condition upon receipt. This is an important consideration because the mobile nature of laptops can really inflict some wear and tear and having to spend $50 or more every time you need repairs done will eat into any savings you may have made in the first place.


When you buy a used laptop online and all you get to see are pictures showing a great looking exterior there still are a few things to be wary of:

  • maybe the battery lasts only 15 minutes because of age. Replacement batteries are not cheap!
  • what is the condition of the hard disk, any funny noises, how many bad sectors and has it been increasing?
  • does the screen have many dead pixels or any other problems?

Unless you can inspect the laptop yourself I would be very careful about buying used laptops from individuals, especially if they are sold “as is” or do not have a “dead on arrival”(DOA) warranty. Ask as many questions as you can about the condition of a used laptop before purchase.

Software & Drivers

There is the issue of not having drivers available for components specific to the laptop when you need to re-install the operating system. Check to see if you can get these drivers online from the manufacturers web site or if the seller will provide original driver disks or CD.

Make sure the software you plan to use falls within the hardware specs of the used laptop you’re looking to buy (check software requirements). Sometimes there may not even be anything installed so you have to install your own operating system and software.

If the used laptop does include an operating system and/or several programs be sure to get all serial numbers or registration keys and disks or CD’s each program may require for re-installation.

Exercise some caution when buying online and you may find a great used laptop for a fraction of what you would pay normally. If the price difference compared to a similar brand new laptop is marginal then consider buying the new one for the warranty, tech support, newest operating system, and software bundle.