If you want to buy a computer, you need to get something brand new, with likely a big pricetag, right? Otherwise you’re stuck in the questionable world of Craigslist, right? Not so fast, actually!
I had a chance recently to test the purchasing experience on Microsoft certified reseller Refurbees.com and picked up a pretty sweet old-school Lenovo X61 quickly and easily. Here’s how it all went down…
If you’re deep in the computer world, it’s easy to forget that not everyone has the budget or motivation to buy the latest and greatest device on the market. Whether it’s a tablet, a laptop, a convertible (that is, a hybrid laptop that also serves as a tablet) or a desktop computer, the industry seems to be focused on selling you new gear at a premium price. The problem with buying used gear, of course, is that you have no idea if it’s any good, if it’s full of viruses, or whether it’s already half-broken and you just don’t have access to all the fancy diagnostics that a large corporation would have.
But when large corporations sell their older gear by the thousands of units (think government agencies or Fortune 500 companies doing department-wide upgrades) what happens to them? Turns out that they are usually purchased in bulk by refurbishers, companies that test, reformat, reinstall new, clean copies of the operating system and then resell them at a small profit.
There are two types of refurbishers too, those that are somewhat fly-by-night and those that are Microsoft Certified Resellers, which means that they install new, legal, licensed copies of the appropriate Windows operating system on the units before sending them to customers. No worries about old viruses or spyware-filled “free, don’t worry about it” copies of the operating system.
To see how this side of the industry works, I went in cold, going to Refurbees.com and perusing what they had available for sale in their current inventory. Here’s what the home page looks like:
Not a massive inventory, as you can see on the left side, but a fair amount of gear nonetheless, including laptop bags, keyboards, hard drives, all-in-one’s and, yes, laptops. I looked for Lenovo gear and found the X61, a classic old-school convertible device:
But, is the computer any good? It’s certainly an interesting design with its swivel display!
To double check it’d be a good addition to the office computer collection, a quick Google search for “Lenovo Thinkpad X61” revealed it is indeed very well rated:
In fact, those are quite impressive ratings!
A click on “Add to Cart”, an entry of a shipping address, and I was able to even pay via PayPal:
It wasn’t quite Amazon’s one-click shopping, but it took no more than 60 seconds to go through the entire checkout process and before I knew it, I was seeing this:
At that point it was just a waiting game, and the same day I actually got a call from Refurbees.com saying that this particular model was out of stock but did I want an upgrade to basically the same computer, but with more RAM. Of course I was fine with that, and five business days later, the box showed up:
Now part of the world of refurbished gear is that they don’t have original boxes and packaging. No manuals, not much of anything other than the computer itself, any necessary power supply etc. Notice that this also includes a note on how to activate your Windows 7 license on the new computer. Windows 7. Definitely a reminder of how retro the system is by 2015 standards.
Still, I pulled it out of the cool bubble packing and it was in pristine shape, really as-new and ready to go. I plugged it in, pressed the power button and it immediately jumped into the Windows installer process:
It’s a cool design because it’s pre-touchscreen so it works with a pen as an optional pointing device (that’s the string on the right: the leash for the pen that slips into the computer. It also doesn’t have an actual trackpad, the tiny red dot between the G, H, and B key is the pointing “finger”. Takes a bit of getting used to, but fun retro gear, and a computer, once configured and set up, that’s quite a capable travel or student machine.
All in all, if you don’t have the budget for a brand new computer, going the refurbished route can be a great way to get gear that’s like new, with clean, legal copies of Windows (and that’s important too, there are a lot of questionable copies of Windows installed on used computers all the time, many of which have malware or spyware pre-installed) and support for the first year to boot. And the experience with Refurbees.com was great, they were fast, easy to work with, professional and shipped promptly.
So next time you need gear for a rental unit, a particularly rough student in your life, or just don’t have the money for the latest and greatest, check out refurbished gear, and check out Refurbees.com. We did, and we were happy with the results.