Every buyer has to answer one of the most important questions: what to check when buying a pre-owned device? Of course, everything depends greatly on personal preference. Nevertheless, here are the basic steps:

Before making any sort of purchase, you need to know what you will be using the computer for and buy something that matches your needs. Think about the sort of applications you will need, how portable you need your laptop to be, battery life, RAM and storage requirements.

When you find a laptop you want to buy, search for the make and model online and print out its specifications to verify that it matches with the product you’re about to purchase.

Before you buy, check reviews online and see what people are saying about the laptop and its performance over a long period of time.

A thorough body check is non-negotiable. You need to make sure the laptop frame is free from cracks and signs of impact. Also, check for missing screws, loose hinges, and any other irregularities.

The next important step is to make sure the screen is in good working condition. Check for flickering, discolouration, brightness and bad pixels.

Open a video and see if the viewing angles are wide enough. Compare with other laptops before making a purchase.

The keyboard and trackpad are the most used parts of computers, so it’s crucial to make sure both parts are working in a satisfactory manner.

  • Check for broken keys, pay attention to key travel and see if you feel comfortable typing with the keyboard. If you’re making too many mistakes, it might be best to try out other laptops.
  • Check what gestures are supported by the trackpad and try them out (such as pinch-to-zoom, two-finger scroll, three-finger swipe, etc.). If mouse keys are present, make sure they’re easy to press.

Try out all the USB ports, headphone jack, ethernet ports, HDMI, SD card slot and other available inputs. Many of these are attached directly to the motherboard which is costly to replace.

Nobody wants a laptop that cannot connect to WiFi, so make sure you can view and connect to WiFi networks without hassle. Also check to see how Bluetooth performs.

  • Most laptop webcams are mediocre. Still, it’s better to have a mediocre working webcam than no webcam at all.
  • I suspect not many people use their laptop speakers much, but it’s still a good idea to see how loud it can get and see if sounds get muffled or distorted easily.

You may not always be able to perform a thorough battery check in most cases. Still, you can get a rough idea of how long the battery lasts by going into the power management settings of the installed OS to see how much charge the battery can hold and the battery health status.

Also, make sure the battery charges properly and doesn’t drain too fast. Otherwise, ask for a discount so you can get a replacement.

  • Make sure the preloaded operating system is genuine
  • Check the licenses of the software that is included with the laptop and make sure any product keys are made available to you

Let’s suppose, buying a stolen device is okay because:

  • you are not the one, who stole it
  • you have paid, and it is not your concern that the money didn’t go to the real owner
  • the real owner should have taken better care of their valuables

However, it is NOT okay because:

  • you will be the one, who suffers

Sometimes the police find a lost or stolen device. Should your newly acquired device turn out to be stolen it could result in serious consequences for you.

Always ask the seller for documentation, which is the best (and probably the only) proof that the device you are going to buy is in fact owned by them.

Depending on the age of the device and manufacturer, it may come with a warranty.

Buying a pre-owned device does not have to be difficult. By performing these simple checks, you can potentially avoid making a purchase you would regret.

Please note that these checks do not guarantee that nothing will go wrong in the future, so be cautious when shopping, and don’t be afraid to return the product if you find any major problems.