Notebook online auction buying guide

There are few things in life which can be considered head-in-the-clouds experiences. The head-in-the-cloud feeling of the first kiss, the unbridled joy of winning the lottery, and the sheer excitement of unboxing your spanking new PC system.

But stop and think. Do you really want to wait for the first 12-hour charge before flicking on your notebook, only to find issues like dead pixels or faulty hardware? Can you afford waiting days or even weeks for your desktop to be delivered? Is it really worth buying the latest technology at a premium, when a last-generation system is more than enough for your needs?

Since you are buying outdated machines anyway, there is no reason to pay the extra for a new set when there are literally thousands out there auctioning off theirs for much lower, some even complete with valid warranty and in mint condition. Despite stories of fraud and scams, buying from online auctions is actually not much more dangerous than stumbling into a shady fly-by-night store selling second-hand electronics.

From choosing your system to testing your purchase, here is a three-part guide to buying a notebook off online auctions. Part one deals with how to decipher the lingo of second-hand sellers and common features of online auction sites.

Step 1: Which auction site?

Whether you go online or to a brick-and-mortar store, the very first step should be knowing what system is right for you based on your needs (note needs, not wants). Use our notebook buying guide as reference if you want. Questionable sales tactics work just as well online as in person, so do not be fooled by bait-and-switch maneuvers or tempted by the poetic descriptions of an entry-level machine seemingly fulfilling high-end expectations. Sure, a Celeron-based system with a low-end graphics card may be able to run Battlefield 2, but at such low frame rates that you feel as if your character is constantly smoking weed.

Not counting online stores--where you purchase first-hand goods--there are two main ways you can get second-hand gear from the Internet. The first is at forum classifieds, where sellers post up their products and prices which may or may not be negotiable. The second is at online auctions where the description and start price are put up, and where interested buyers start bidding up till the item is sold.

Two of the largest online auction sites, eBay and Yahoo! Auctions, have international as well as region-specific Web pages which cater to your location. If you would rather deal face-to-face at the end of the auction, choose sellers who lives in your city. The international market, however, has better deals and some of the more obscure items. A brand new LearJet anybody?

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