Buying used Macs in tough economic times

Tuesday, 31 March 2009, 05:13 Hrs
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Munich: In tough economic times, restraint is in, even when buying computers. Yet there are also times when a change is needed. Those looking to buy a computer from Apple but are unable to spare the extra couple of hundred dollars should consider a used model.

"Naturally it's always possible to get conned," says Christian Moeller from Munich-based Macwelt magazine. That's why it's crucial to check out the condition of the machine - including the right to a replacement if problems arise. Online dealer, for example, offers a one-year guarantee for all used machines, as well as a four-week replacement period for private buyers.

"Macs don't age as quickly as a PC," Moeller says. Part of that is due to the fine craftsmanship. This does present one downside for potential buyers: "Macs also hold their value much more than PCs."

Used Macs can also be found at many authorised Apple retailers and on eBay. Even Apple itself sells refurbished models on its web site.

"The devices aren't particularly old," says press spokesman Georg Albrecht. Apple offers a one-year guarantee on the refurbished models, which are often test or display models.

The refurbished models are often $100-200 cheaper, Moeller says, and in many cases have better optional features than the standard configuration. A refurbished MacBook with a 2.4 Gigahertz Intel Core 2 Duo process, 13 inch monitor, 2 Gigabyte (GB) RAM, 160 GB hard drive, SuperDrive and Webcam was recently available on the Apple home page for $960.

"We look at the device very carefully. The customers ultimately expect it to be in very good condition, even for used Macs," Albrecht says.

New Macs include the OS system as well as the iLife software package. Those buying used devices from anyone but Apple should check to ensure that the original installation DVDs are included, Moeller recommends. While it's possible to buy a new copy of the operating system, the system then needs to be reinstalled anew - and iLife won't be included either.

"You then have to buy it extra."

As part of the refurbishing process, Apple deletes and overwrites the hard drive to prevent the prior user's data from being recovered.

"It's also simpler to update the software if the hard drive is empty. Even if the computer is used - the software is current.

Just how old a machine is worth buying depends on what the buyer wants to do with it: An iBook with a G4 process can be used to surf, read emails and run office applications. It can also play back MP3s. Yet unlike new Macs with Intel processors the G4 machines can't handle a dual Windows installation.

One important factor when buying a used machine: ask about any flaws in that particular series of models. In 2006, Apple was forced to recall batteries for some G4 iBooks. Anyone buying a device affected by a recall or the like should ask whether the previous owner already made the swap, Moeller recommends.

"In most cases this will already have been done."
Source: IANS
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