I am a big fan of refurbished products, including laptops, desktop computers and smartphones. There are many positives involved in choosing refurbished over new. The most obvious one is money, as in you’ll save considerably over paying the regular retail price. But there are other reasons as well. Refurbishment helps to keep products that may have otherwise been written off from ending up in landfill. And even though it may sound contrary, a refurbished product may actually prove to be more reliable than a brand new version. I’ll elaborate on that statement shortly ….

Different classifications of refurbished

Manufacturer Certified Refurbished: A product that has been refurbished, tested and certified by the original manufacturer to be in perfect working order and usually free of all but minor visual flaws. May not be in original retail packaging, but will be repackaged with original accessories, with warranty backed by the manufacturer.

Certified Refurbished: A product that has been refurbished, tested and certified by the seller to work the same as a brand new version. May not be in retail packaging, but includes original accessories. For example, this HP laptop has been refurbished to Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher standards, including details like testing the ports, operating temperatures and RAM. 

Refurbished: Offered through third parties, these units can come in a range of conditions from retailers; however, Best Buy only sells “Grade A” inventory, typically sold in 9/10 or better cosmetic condition. Usually not in a retail box, and may include non-original accessories such as smartphone chargers and cables—but you’ll save a bit more and still get a reliable product.

Warranty

Different classifications of refurbished products have different warranty lengths. Some manufacturer certified refurbished products have the same warranty as new versions. Looking to save money on a PC or laptop? Whether you choose Refurbished, Certified Refurbished or Manufacturer Certified Refurbished, all carry a minimum 90-day warranty when purchased through the Best Buy Marketplace. And if you buy a refurbished tablet or smartphone, you can count on the device still offering great battery life.

Refurbished products are tested products

You’ve probably seen the movie “Elf,” and if so, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the scene early in the movie where Buddy is testing jack-in-the-boxes. The reality is that with most consumer electronics and small appliances, there is no hands-on testing. At best, there’s a computerized scan to ensure gear coming off the production line is within specifications, maybe a visual inspection to catch any obvious issues and possibly a quick check to confirm it powers up. Most companies pull a unit randomly and actually test it thoroughly to ensure there are no flawed batches, but the majority of the products you see on store shelves never had the “Buddy” hands-on testing experience.

And for the most part that’s okay. But no matter how good a manufacturer is, a small percentage of its products are going to have issues. That can be anything from a flawed component to a mistake in assembly, damage during shipping or even something as minor as a cosmetic defect like a scratch.

Most refurbished products have been returned because there was a problem. The manufacturer or an experienced third party company has subsequently identified the issue, made the necessary repairs and then thoroughly tested the product. When you buy refurbished, the problem is fixed, and you actually have some assurance that any potential problems have also been identified and addressed. 

In some cases a refurbished product is simply one that was returned because the purchaser changed their mind or didn’t like it. In this case, it won’t go through the repair process but you actually have a new product. Because Best Buy only allows “Grade A” product to be sold online or in store, you can feel confident that the unit you’re getting has passed the test. Unlike other sites that may explicitly carry “Grade B” or even “Grade C” products that are a bit cheaper, Best Buy has made the decision to avoid those lemons.

Either way you win, because you are saving a considerable amount of money. Another way of looking at it is buying refurbished lets you buy up and purchase a higher class of product, without the extra cash outlay. For example, you can even find high powered gaming computers like Dell’s awesome Alienware Area 51 R5, as a refurbished option.

Why I choose to buy refurbished PCs 

I buy a lot of computers. I’m a pretty plugged in guy (no pun intended). I’ve had my own company for more than a decade, I write about technology and I test a lot of tech. That means I update my PCs fairly regularly. I also have three teenagers (more computers) and I also have a media server dishing up streaming video to the house. Whenever I’m shopping for a new PC, I traditionally buy refurbished and I recommend this option to my friends. Most of my equipment is Apple, and the company’s Manufacturer Certified Refurbished products are always visually flawless, nicely packaged and carry the same one-year warranty as new. 

And of all the equipment I’ve purchased over the past decade, the only repairs I required have actually been to the products I bought new. That’s because if something was going to go wrong with the refurbished computer, it already has (and has been fixed); or testing during the refurbishment process catches it, and it’s fixed.

Going refurbished has saved a lot of money, and it’s also often the only option if you want to buy a product that has been discontinued. For example, when I wanted a 17-inch Apple MacBook Pro, they were still available as refurbished models for at least a year after Apple had officially discontinued the model.

Not just PCs are available as refurbished

So far I’ve talked a lot about computers, tablets and other consumer electronics. However, the refurbishment process works well for other products as well, including small appliances, vacuum cleaners and even TVs.

Just like computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, each of these is inspected, repaired (if necessary), tested, repackaged and offered for sale at significant discounts compared to regular retail pricing. You can upgrade your kitchen with a stainless steel microwave, and save enough money to be able to buy a new coffee maker.

Tired of the monotony of vacuuming? By opting for a refurbished version, you can get a highly rated Roomba 860 robotic vacuum that does all the work for you, yet costs less than many traditional vacuum cleaners.

And you can really score with televisions. The latest and greatest flatscreen technology like 4K, OLED, curved screens and of course, great big panels are high on everyone’s wish list, but they can be prohibitively expensive. But for what you would pay for a TV you’re reasonably happy with, you could instead opt for a refurbished model and get the TV of your dreams.

So if you’re looking to save money on a PC, monitor, tablet, TV, small appliance, or even a vacuum cleaner, don’t just shop the sales. Check out the selection of refurbished products at Best Buy for big discounts on like-new products.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. After 13 years as a product manager with a leading Canadian tech company, I transitioned into a full-time career of writing about technology. I’ve contributed to a range of publications and websites including Forbes, Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, About.com, MSN Money, the Winnipeg Free Press, InvestorPlace Media, Shaw Media and—combining technology and my three kids—I’ve been a Core Contributor to the award winning GeekDad blog since its launch in 2007.

1 COMMENT

  1. Want to buy a refurbished laptop. There is no way to contact the sellers to ask about details. Not sure what the following statement means copied from the above article. …
    “Refurbished: Offered through third parties, these units can come in a range of conditions from retailers; however, Best Buy only sells “Grade A” inventory, typically sold in 9/10 or better cosmetic condition”
    So, does this mean the sellers on Best Buy Marketplace can ship purchased laptops in a range of conditions, and Best Buy itself only sells Grade A laptops??
    I do not want to purchase a laptop and have it arrive scratched or dented.
    There is no way to tell the condition as the sellers or many of the sellers wont list condition.
    Thanks

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