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Buying A Demo Unit At A Retail Store

Posted on 2002-06-21
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What is the cons of buying a Demo unit at a retail store?  Are these computers in good shape after all the abuse?  This is a laptop.
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Question by:adenosine
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by:Wakeup
ID: 7099983
adenosine,

Generally demo units at the store can be abused and can be in good shape.  But it all depends on how long it has been sitting there.  Also try to compare prices around other brands with the same equipment as well as maybe even Ebay, or some online Stores for the same or like models and see if the price you are asked to pay for the used/abused demo model is at a decent price.  Sometimes they only take off like 10% or 15 maybe even 20%.  Which you'll have to decide if it is worth it.  Sometimes the demo models are really abused.  Keyboard buttons are messed up or warn, touch pad (mouse or track ball) may be busted or abused etc.  
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 7100020
I'd be personally willing to buy a second-hand desktop machine, but I think a laptop is too much of a risk. They're more delicate than desktop PCs, especially in terms of the LCD screen, and they also cost a LOT of money to fix if something does go wrong.
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by:slink9
ID: 7100375
It depends on which store you are buying it from and if it still has a warranty.  I wouldn't buy a demo or new computer from Radio Shack since I have seen a Compaq refurb that came from them and didn't work properly from the first boot.  That sort of soured my attitude toward refurbed equipment.
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jhance earned 50 total points
ID: 7100403
The #1 problem I've seen with DEMO units is getting the CORRECT software license, authorization codes, and system recovery CDs.

I can't tell you how many times I've help out someone with such a system and the system recovery CD didn't match the system or doesn't match the Microsoft Certificate of Authenticy and the ID code there.  This makes system recovery impossible and you are then at either the system vendor's or Microsoft's mercy as to whether you can get the right one or whether they'll make you buy a new software license.

In general, however, I don't have a problem with it if:

1) You are 100% you are getting all the software and licenses you expect.  I suggest you run the system recovery BEFORE purchase to be sure you get a 100% factory fresh and factory supportable setup.

2) You get a FULL manufacturers warranty.  In fact, I ask the store to throw in an extra year of that EXTENDED warranty they always try to sell you.  (These things cost them almost nothing and are hightly profitable, that's why they try to sell them so hard...)  Note that this is especially important with laptops where the cost of non-warranty repair is very high!

3) You are getting a good price break on the thing, especially is the system is "stale".  By stale I mean that it's out-of-date w.r.t. new systems now on their shelves.  In the computer biz, "stale" may be 2 weeks old!!!

4) Everything about the unit's physical condition is acceptable to you.  Be sure the keyboard, pointer, and LCD display (things you will use all the time) are in great shape.  Things like scratches, broken or missing doors, etc. are no big deal (they'll happen anyway) but be sure to point them out to the salesperson and get appropriate $$$ taken off.

5) Often demo units have stupid stickers on them.  Be sure these can be taken off safely.  I don't recommend using Goo-Gone or similar solvents on laptops.  There are many components that can be damaged by these solvents.  Gummy stick residue is a real pain!
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by:adenosine
ID: 7100717
My main concern is the keyboard and the mouse pointer, how do I know they are in good shape?  If they work, is that good enough?  This also applies to the LCD screen.
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by:adenosine
ID: 7100719
Oh, in addition, the main reason why I'm buying at a retail store is because I will buy the extended warranty, I'm sure it would be cheaper on Ebay.
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by:slink9
ID: 7100846
If the mouse and keyboard work at the moment and they have the normal warranty plus the extended warranty it is a good deal.  I would insist on the extended warranty as a freebie or a quite reduced rate since this is a demo.
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by:Wakeup
ID: 7100935
adenosine,

I was suggesting Ebay to figure out prices....Check the prices online.  Not necessarily Ebay, but say for example if you were to buy a new laptop and CompUsa, for like $2000, you can probably find that very same laptop online brand new at some Internet Computer store for $1500.  And if CompUsa were to sell the demo unit.  They may sell it for $1700 as a demo or used unit....Why not go online and buy that very same laptop for 1500 brand new?!
just my 2 cents worth.  But then again your support on the laptop is and can be limited since it may be harder to ship back and forth for warranty work if needed.  But that part is up to you.
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