Techie: Get it while it’s hot, used
You don’t have to buy it new, just cuz everyone has one
John “jaQ” Andrews
latest and greatest gadgets can be harrowing, for two main reasons.
First, the latest is
only such for a very short time, and isn’t even guaranteed to be
greatest. Second, it costs a lot of money.
Now, sure, if you
told a man from the 1820s that you could gather up just one week’s
salary and buy a machine on which you can: calculate complex
mathematical formulae; communicate with people all over the globe;
record, copy and listen to music; store thousands of pictures; and kill
tons of imaginary monsters, well, he’d regard you as a rich and noble
person of the highest order.
Still, if you go
around buying one of these magical boxes every week, you won’t eat very
much. And you’ll get rained on a lot.
Fortunately for you
— make that “us” — there is no need to buy everything new. You can have
it all, though it may be barely used, imperceptibly damaged or otherwise
not perfectly pristine. If you’re really, really lucky, you might even
get stuff in its first week or two of newness and, therefore, coolness.
I speak of the
market with many names — refurbished, reconditioned, open box, display
model, etc. Any way you go, you can get some real bargains.
In theory, different
terms mean different things. In practice, a store might mark anything
that’s been opened as refurbished, or anything that’s not new for
whatever reason as open box.
have been marked as defective in some way, checked out by a technician,
fixed if necessary and re-packaged for sale once again. Often, there’s
absolutely nothing wrong with the product — the purchaser might have
bought it in haste and not known what to do with it; the instructions
might just be incomprehensible, and a savvy geek like you never reads
instructions anyway. If there was something wrong, it was repaired, and
most manufacturers put refurbished products through all their normal
tests before declaring them fixed. You’re actually more likely to get a
trouble-free product if it’s been refurbished.
pretty much just a synonym for refurbished, but some manufacturers make
a nuanced distinction. Apple, for instance, refurbishes products at its
factories; Apple-certified techs, on the other hand, recondition them
wherever they are.
Display models have
been taken out of their boxes and, well, displayed, probably in a store.
Some have been pawed by fellow geeks, while others have reclined
pristinely behind glass, not even turned on.
Open box items could
be any of these. The box might have been opened just to satisfy
someone’s curiosity as to what accessories came with the main product.
Generally, the fewer
moving parts, consumables and scratchable surfaces a gadget has, the
more likely it is that your not-new item will be, for all intents and
purposes, flawless. A printer could have less- than-full ink cartridges,
misaligned paper rollers and an LCD screen with dead pixels and still be
justifiably marked only open box. A small flash-based MP3 player, on the
other hand, is probably just fine.