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Ten things to look for when buying a new laptop

Updated on December 27, 2011

If you shop carefully, you can pick up a used laptop on Craigslist at a reasonable price. If you want to avoid a costly mistake use the tips from this hub before handing over your cash. This hub gives you ten things to look out for when buying a used laptop.

For security I like to meet the seller in a public coffee shop that offers free Wi-Fi. Be sure to bring your own headset and movie DVD with you for testing. Find a seat close to an electrical outlet. Take your time. Don't let the seller hurry you into buying the laptop before you've given it a thorough inspection.

Take a couple of minutes to talk to the seller about how long he's had the machine, any issues and why he' s selling.

Look at the laptop case carefully. If someone has taken care of the machine there shouldn't be many dings or scratches. The machine should be clean and cosmetically okay. The laptop display should open smoothly. The keys on the keyboard should still have a nice spring. The mouse pad shouldn't be discolored.

Plug it in using the power adapter. Make sure the power connector to the laptop motherboard fits snugly. A common and expensive problem is a damaged motherboard power connector. It requires an expensive new motherboard to fix.

Turn the machine on and make sure it boots. Shutdown. Unplug the power adapter and boot again; this time using the rechargeable battery pack. Does the battery indicate a full charge. Keep an eye on how quickly the battery is discharging as you continue the rest of the test.

Open device manager in Windows or click Apple => About this Mac and verify that the hard disk, memory, processor video adapter and other hardware match the description in the ad.

Check out the video display. Examining it carefully looking for dead pixels and scratches. Switch to the highest resolution. Load your test movie dvd. Play the video full-screen. Inspect the screen again for any dead pixels. Vary the screen brightness from lowest to highest. Can you read the screen easily? Can you read the screen well in bright sunshine?

Open a word processing application. Verify all the keys are working on the keyboard. If the seller is an avid gamer be extra careful to ensure that certain haven't lost their springiness from overuse when he plays games.

Next connect to the Wi-Fi network to verify that wireless adapter is working. Open a browser and verify that you can connect to the Internet.

Recheck the battery. The battery should still be almost full.

Well that's about the best that you can do in a short time to verify that the laptop is working.


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