Buying a Used Laptop – A Guide
Laptop has its fruitfulness as it clear from its name that it can be easily used in your lap, thus offering high level of mobility. Previously we had, Desktops – alongside we also know about Tabletops, but still Laptops offer its benefits and get a place at top of computing devices, especially in business community.
Despite high competition and variety of products, laptops are still costly enough that they are beyond the range of an average buyer to get a good new machine. So the purpose is served with old laptops.
Following is a brief tutorial and some key tips to be kept in mind while purchasing used (second hand) laptops.
Very first and important thing that should be considered is figuring out the usage of your laptop, that is for what do you want to use your laptop for?
From word processing to project designing, from email and web surfing to data downloading, from online shopping to e-commerce – it is important to decide if this laptop will be used for your home or office, and if you need a simple (less powerful) machine for your word processing and internet surfing demands or you need to have an extremely powerful machine for rendering movies while on the go.
Key tip is not to use your laptop for gaming and extensive load bearing tasks as you can easily get a branded Pentium 4 computer in 5 to 6 thousand Rupees that can serve such tasks very easily. Laptop is a delicate gadget, take keen care of it. But it merits mentioning here that there are very powerful laptops available in the market, which can perform high profile work, very easily; but obviously they are expensive.
As now as you have decided your purpose and budget, keep following points in mind, while selecting your machine.
- Laptop Company
- LCD Condition
- Laptop Casing
- Hard disk Troubleshoot
- Connection Ports
- Heat Bearing Ability
- Battery Life
- Laptop Case
- Laptop Company:
Currently there are a lot of laptop vendors but some of them have good market value and name. Most popular are Sony vaio, Acer, HP, Compaq,Toshiba,Apple, IBM Lenovo and Dell. All these companies have trustworthy and good machines which are very useful for all tasks. In local market we mostly see used laptops in IBM Lenovo and Compaq. Try to visit the market two or three times to find the best place, as I will prefer HP, Toshiba and Sony vaio but it’s difficult to get even a used machine of mentioned brands in market, also they are still costly.
Moreover, you need to see that the machine you are purchasing matches your requirements, meaning that its neither very less powerful nor it is high powered machine.
They key feature of laptop is its LCD, while new technology of LCD is TFT. Main difference between LCD and TFT in layman’s language is that, TFT has clear view even if the screen is viewed from some irregular angle – like sideways, top or any angle, contents are totally visible as you can see on picture tube monitor, while in case of LCD there is a specific angle at which all the contents with genuine colors are visible, you can easily check changing of color shades, by changing LCD angle.
Be aware to keenly check that there may not be any kind of spot even a pin spot in LCD as it can be referred to as starting point of LCD damage. This pins or block spots are also called Dead Pixel.
Carefully check the laptop body, as there are a lot of used laptops in market with broken cases and they are repaired and then re-painted. (I got my laptop re-painted from Hafeez Center Lahore in just 1000 rupees :D). So make it very clear, do not get caught in shining surface of old laptop, rather make sure that it has not been damaged from anywhere as this damage may have caused or can cause effect on laptop’s internal accessories, mainly motherboard. Prefer to buy a laptop with original color – dull, instead of re-painted shiny surface laptop would be lot better. If you are touchy about its color, get it painted by yourself after purchase :)
Keypad and Touchpad:
It does not take long time to press single key one by one to check whether they are in working condition or not. Keypad is the most important thing when you come to work on your machine – so make sure to get it checked on the spot to avoid any embarrassment afterwards.
Hard Disk Troubleshoot:
Hard disk of laptop is most delicate part of this sensitive gadget after its LCD. Make sure that the laptop does not show any weird behavior like odd voices from machine. Hard disk makes clacking sounds if it is at start of its life-end. Make sure that hard disk is in good order, as you can have a scan disk along with a deep bad sector check. Try using applications that may keep hard drive busy for 5 – 10 minutes. This will show how it behaves under load. As they often work well at start. Do not ignore even a single whirring sound from laptop as it is said to be the first point where laptop hard drive starts to get damaged.
External Ports and Functions:
As these features have nothing to do with laptop performance and buying tips, but still you must check if they are working good or not. Also, whether you are planning to have a built in CD Rom or many laptops come with external CD Rom that connects to the machine via USB port. Some necessary things which are to be considered are, make sure to have at least 2 USB ports along with a LAN port. Some laptops also come with built in Dial up modem but DSL has ruled out dial up era so it is not necessary. Prefer to have Wi-Fi built in machine, as it may cost you more but future is going to be a wire-free age and you are not going to change your laptop again and again.
Heat Bearing Ability:
In our climate, one cannot afford too much heating as it can cause severe damages to ram, motherboard, CPU and mainly processor. Check this factor by putting some work for specific time and note laptop’s body temperature, as it is a big factor in laptop performance. Still if you are not satisfied with temperature, external stands are available in market with built-in big fans that keep on cooling the laptop from bottom. Also getting your laptop serviced (internally and externally) will help avoiding heating issues.
Battery lifetime is again an important feature of laptop as this is the only thing, that is responsible for the mobility of a laptop. Modern laptops have 3 to 5 hours backup time but that are damn costly so an average laptop has a battery timing of 90 to 120 minutes. Old laptops usually have battery life problem and it falls down to just 5 to 10 minutes even after full charge, so clarify this thing from vendor and also make a test yourself, how much percentage laptop is consuming per unit time. Though it mainly depends on what kind of application you are running on laptop but still a test is needed for this most important point.
Laptop case, though a bit costly, but a useful thing for your machine. It keeps your machine protected from both dust and small jerks, so do try to have a suitable case for your laptop.
Now that you have finally purchased a good laptop, keep it safe as it is a really delicate gadget. Enjoy your mobile computing life :D
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