Second-hand laptops are still basically a very useful device especially if you only need one for basing computing purposes. It is another story if you want a unit to play a lot of games or edit photos and videos where you will need a more recent technology.
And of course the fact that you can get a unit priced at about $3000 three years ago for only $500 is already a good deal. It is true that manufacturers follow an upgrade cycle of every three years or even less but this does not mean that a unit made three years ago is already absolutely obsolete.
What should you look for when buying used laptops?
First, know the minimum specs you require. If you need a unit for e-mail, office works and web-surfing, a unit 700MHz is enough. You don’t need one with large memory capacity and a 10 to 20 GB hard drive will work fine for you. If you intend the unit to be your stationary terminal, choose one with lithium ion batteries for longevity when away from a power source.
What models and brands should you consider?
IBM has a reputation for well-built portable computers, most models under the ThinkPad brand use well supported components which is handy when you need to look for parts. Fujitsu, Panasonic and Toshiba are also excellent choices reputation-wise and business type systems. Another brand worth checking is Apple.
If you use Linux, you can run it on most Powerbooks or opt for Apple’s Unix or Classic. Buying second-hand laptops from these companies ensure you still get top of the line quality systems.