Should I buy a refurbished laptop or tablet?

Refurbished laptop - HP Pavillion 11
Refurbished laptop - HP Pavillion 11

Refurbished laptop versus tablet

If you do serious or involved work on a mobile computer, it’s a laptop that you need, not a tablet.

A tablet is really just a big mobile phone that, as yet, you can’t use as one. No matter how good a tablet is – running Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android mobile operating system – it is currently no match in comparison to a laptop as a workstation. If only because the entry of text and numbers requires the use of a touchscreen keyboard. Not a problem if you can use an attachable keyboard that are available for some tablets, especially the iPad, usually in the form of a case. Some tablets come with a built-in detachable keyboard, also usually in the form of a case..However, as technology, such as voice recognition, advance, the day must come when the tablet makes the laptop redundant technology.

That said, I see no reason why a tablet can’t be used in the same way as a Google Chromebook, which runs online apps if it runs the Google Chrome operating system. However, a Chromebook can be made to run a full distribution of Linux, such as Ubuntu, which can run Linux applications, such as Gimp, a full-blown image editor with the power of Photoshop.

I need a new laptop. Should I buy a Chromebook? –

Should you buy a Chromebook laptop?

Refurbished laptops and tablets

Refurbished laptops and tablets are available. On Amazon, they can both also be described as renewed.

It is best to buy refurbished computers that come with a warranty/guarantee, which is the case with Amazon.

“Product works and looks like new. Comes with a 90-day warranty.” – Note that it is NOT advisable to accept a warranty less than 12 months.

“Renewed products are pre-owned products not Apple certified but have been inspected and tested by Amazon-qualified suppliers. Box and accessories may be generic. All products on Amazon Renewed come with a minimum 90-day supplier-backed warranty.”

“HP EliteBook 840 G1 14-inch Ultrabook (Intel Core i5 4th Gen, 8GB Memory, 256GB SSD, WiFi, WebCam, Windows 10 Professional 64-bit) (Renewed).” – £280 in June 2019

“Apple iPad with Retina Display MD510LL/A (16GB, Wi-Fi, Black) 4th Generation (Renewed).”

“Samsung Galaxy Tab A T580 10.1in 16GB Tablet W/ 32GB SD card (Renewed).”

Most new laptops fall into the £200 to £2000 price range

Most new laptops fall into the £200 to £2000 price range, but far more expensive makes and models are available. However, refurbished laptops can be half the price of what the cost was when they were new. Laptops tend to hold their value longer than tablets.

Most new tablets fall into the £50 to £500 price range

Most new tablets fall into the £50 to £500 price range, but far more expensive makes and models are available. However, refurbished tablets can be less than half the price of what the cost was when new.

Use the length of the warranty as a gauge of the quality of the refurbishment

I would not buy a refurbished laptop or tablet that has a warranty of less than 12 months. I would expect such a machine not to have any problems for at least a year. The older the model, the less the warranty is likely to be and the more that would need to be replaced. It is easy to find out how old a machine is by searching for the make and model online

If the machine is relatively new, very little refurbishment needs to take place, such as a new keyboard and battery. However the older the machine the greater the need for a new touchscreen, keyboard, battery and laptop touch-pad, because those components degrade with use over time.

I have bought a new tablet that had small but crucial areas of the screen that did not accept touch commands. I had to change it from landscape to portrait mode in order to make them work. Therefore, new or refurbished, it’s advisable to test a touchscreen, touch-pad, keyboard and battery charging as well as possible before accepting it.

Some sellers grade the quality of the refurbishment

Some sellers of refurbished machines, such as Laptops Direct in the UK, not only provide a 12-month warranty on all of them, but also grade the quality of the refurbishment from Grade A1 to A3. A1 laptops are either new but have a broken box seal or are refurbished by the manufacturer and free of damage. A2 laptops could have minor blemishes. A3 laptops  have visible scratches and dents. If the laptop uses a mechanical hard disk drive, rough treatment could damage it, but that is unlikely to be the case if it has any kind of electronic SSD drive. None of the laptops will have screen damage. Buying one that has noticeable damage to the case can result in a perfectly good machine that will last as long as a new one but which costs very much less than a flawless model.

Amazon’s Certified Refurbished (CR) rating

It is very well worth considering a laptop bearing Amazon’s Certified Refurbished (CR) rating because the original equipment manufacturer (Apple, HP, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, etc.) does the refurbishment. That manufacturer has the tests to find out what needs renewal and it has the proper components.

eBay’s Manufacturer Refurbished rating

On eBay filter by searching for ‘Manufacturer Refurbished’. Doing that restricts the listings to devices that the laptop manufacturers repair and sell. Asus, Acer, Lenovo, and HP all sell refurbished, like-new laptops on eBay which have warranties from 12 months to as long as two years.

Some refurbished laptop sellers allow a trade-in for your old laptop

You would probably bin your old laptop if it no longer functions or is too old to sell. You can save even more money if the seller of a refurbished laptop you buy allows you to trade-in your old machine. Laptops Direct in the UK is such a seller. Of course, the reduction you get depends on the condition of the machine, but only accept a trade-in if you can’t sell your old machine for more than the trade-in offer.

Second-hand versus refurbished laptop or tablet

Buying anything electronic secondhand is always a more precarious business than buying refurbished machines, because not much, if any, refurbishment will have taken place. Most machines are sold as is. Computers and smartphones may or may not be reset to their factory state by the previous owner. Below is what you need to know when buying second-hand.

Are the owner’s files and settings still on the machine

When you buy a secondhand computer or phone online, you should make sure that it can or has been reset to its factory state. Otherwise the previous owner’s setup will be what you are using. A reset computer or phone usually takes it back the state it was in when it left the factory. Which, in turn, means that you will have to install updates if the previous owner did not do that for you. Windows Update does the updating automatically, but you can access Windows Update in the Control Panel and make it search for updates.

Meet in a public place that has CCTV cameras

If you have to meet the seller, make sure that it is in a public place that has CCTV cameras. Never meet outside a house that the seller says is his because it might not be. Or, for that matter, any other place that is out of the way or secluded. If the seller can’t produce a receipt or proof of a warranty, don’t make the purchase.

Ask for a purchase receipt

Stolen goods appear on the secondhand market, so ask for a purchase receipt – physical or digital – especially if the machine is still in its warranty period in case you need to make a claim.

Find out if there is a returns policy

Sellers on online stores, such as eBay and Amazon often provide a returns policy that allows the buyer to return the goods within a specified period, such as 30 or 90 days. If the seller’s webpage specifically says no returns, I would not make a purchase. The more time you have in which to use the machine, the better. For example, a fault with the charger might take a few days to become apparent.

Don’t pay by cash or directly into a bank account

Unless you know the seller, don’t pay by using cash or a direct BACS payment into a bank account. It is always better to use a secure online payment process, such as PayPal, etc. PayPal provides its Purchaser Protection. Web-search for more information on how it works and which purchases it covers.



About Eric 275 Articles
I am an experienced PC technician who has been the owner and sole writer of the PC Buyer Beware! website since 2004. I am learning all the time in this very dynamic, ever-changing field.