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A Guide to Refurbished Laptops

by Max Bellamy

Computing freedom, independence, and mobility don't have to come with a hefty price tag.

Manufacturers refurbish laptop computers that have been returned. The laptop might have a scratched screen or other minor blemish. In some cases, the laptop was an unwanted gift or its packaging was dented. The laptop is inspected by the manufacturer, tested for quality, and repackaged for sale at a much lower price.

While many new laptops can cost thousands of dollars, most refurbished laptop computers usually cost less than a couple of grand, and often less than $500. In most cases, they are as good as new and have a very low return rate. They even come with guarantees and warranties, just as you would expect with a new model.

A refurbished laptop can satisfy most people's basic computing needs, such as word processing, running software, reading e-mail, creating spreadsheets, playing CDs, surfing the Internet, and more. Laptops allow access to all these features from anywhere.

All laptop manufacturers offer refurbished laptops, including such popular brands as Dell, IBM, Toshiba, and HP.

Computer prices are affected by type of processor, operating system, modem, and network card; size of the hard drive and RAM (Random Access Memory); and whether there is a CD/DVD-ROM/RW, a video card, a sound card, and zip drive. Prices are also affected by screen size and type of chassis.

The price will be affected by all these specifications, along with how well preserved the chassis is, the name of the manufacturer, and whether you acquire the laptop form the factory or through a private dealer. Private dealers charge less, but beware: not all dealers are up to par with their refurbishing skills. Be sure to go to one that is reputable and experienced.

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