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How Do I Choose the Best Used Electronics?

Jeremy Laukkonen
Jeremy Laukkonen

In order to choose the best used electronics, you should typically try to focus on items that have a reputation for lasting a long time and not breaking down. Devices that are known for a tendency to develop defects after prolonged use, such as early model plasma televisions, should typically not be purchased used. To this end, it can be useful to perform some research on a device before you decide to buy it used, as positive reviews from consumer advocacy groups and satisfied owners are a good way to find quality used electronics. You should also pay attention to whether an item is refurbished, reconditioned or simply used. Refurbished and reconditioned items will have received varying amounts of attention before being resold, while other used electronics may not have been inspected at all.

The best way to ensure that you end up with quality used electronics is to steer away from brands and models that have poor reputations for durability. Any time a new technology is introduced, such as the first plasma television sets, you should be wary of the initial models. In many cases, these first models will develop issues at some point, and early adopters may try to sell them to pay for the newer versions. If a device or appliance has poor ratings from consumer advocacy groups, or bad customer reviews on the Internet, it is usually a good idea to look for something else.

A used microwave.
A used microwave.

There are also a few terms you may want to familiarize yourself with before you start looking for used electronics. Refurbished units are not necessarily used at all, though they are are often priced similarly. The term, when used to describe consumer electronics, means that some component of the device was serviced or replaced by the manufacturer. This sometimes occurs prior to or immediately after a sale, if a customer notices a physical defect or blemish. These devices often carry reduced or full manufacturer warranties, though you will need to verify that when making a purchase.

A person texting on a used cellphone.
A person texting on a used cellphone.

Reconditioned electronics typically have been used, sometimes even extensively. These units are repaired by either the manufacturer or another party and then offered for sale. In some cases, a reconditioned unit will be restored to a like-new status, though there can be a great deal of variation from one case to another. These units are sometimes in better shape than electronics that are simply used, though there is typically no guarantee. In some cases you will be better off purchasing a gently used device from a private party than a unit that was abused and then reconditioned.

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    • A used microwave.
      A used microwave.
    • A person texting on a used cellphone.
      By: Mariusz Blach
      A person texting on a used cellphone.
    • A used GPS should be checked to ensure that its map database can still be updated.
      By: Igor Mojzes
      A used GPS should be checked to ensure that its map database can still be updated.