Many people are afraid of buying a used laptop because the don’t think it will be as reliable as a new one. Without the protection a warranty offers, this can be a rather daunting prospect. On the other hand, if you want a deal, and don't demand ultra-high performance, buying used is an excellent idea.

Buying a new laptop is much like buying a new car. The first time you roll off the lot with the new car, it will be very shiny, and all your friends will "ooh" and "ah.” Same with the laptop. As time goes on, you will start to see a lot of other people with the same laptop/car, and it will start to loose much of its initial luster.

Others will get new and better cars/laptops, and you'll still be driving your old one. You might be tempted to sell the old laptop, buy a new one, and start the cycle all over again. However, you’ll find out soon enough that, as with a used car, you won’t get nearly the same value out of it as you would like, even though its not even that old and works fine in general.

What if you could be on the other side of this exchange, and you were the one getting the great deal on the laptop? This is the same principle as buying a used car, and buying your next laptop used will get you the exact same type of value. Why not let that other guy take the big depreciation hit? Of course, you have no warranty, but the price is so low that it won’t likely matter. In the end, you still come out ahead.

One of the neatest things about buying used laptops is that you can get some very inexpensive old models that are perfect for basic applications such as internet, e-mail, and office. My favorite laptop for these uses are IBM/Lenovo Thinkpads, because of their ruggedness. Buy one of these at a low price, reinstall the operating system, and you've got yourself a great little portable workstation.

If you’re a gamer, you can even get a nice little portable gaming rig. It won’t play the latest and greatest games, but with a used Alienware laptop or something similar, you can play many great classic games on the road, with a machine that doesn’t have the same crushing price tag as a new gaming laptop would.

So, is a used laptop right for you? If you're like most people, the answer here is most likely yes. Most people over inflate the risk of the laptop breaking on them, which leads to lower demand, and thus lower prices, for used laptops. You can get a nice used tablet PC, typically quite expensive, for low prices.  If you need the best and fastest, by all means buy new, but if you’re just looking for the basics, give used a try.

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