Used Gadgets = Good Buys: Tip-of-the-Day #167


In this slower economy, people may be looking to sell their newer electronics for extra cash. So, if you waited to buy your next big ticket electronic, you may benefit from the (perfectly good) used gadgets up for sale right now. Here's a look at devices that are likely to be good buys even when used:

Plasma TVs: If it turns on and displays a good picture, a plasma screen is unlikely to have major, hidden glitches. Plasmas are solid-state products that are pretty stable.

That said, don't get one that's more than 2 years old. The sets do wear out eventually, and earlier ones did so more quickly than recent models do. Also, study the screen to make sure it hasn't suffered image "burn-in," which can leave a permanent shadow from text or video-game images.

LCD TVs: Like plasmas, these sets don't involve a lot of repair-prone parts. Study the screen to make sure it doesn't suffer from excessive dead pixels. A few aren't unusual, but you don't want them to interfere with your viewing. Once home, the set should perform well. According to Consumer Reports, LCDs and plasmas need fewer repairs than traditional tube TVs.

Blu-ray DVD players: DVD players generally don't make good buys in the used market. They have too many moving parts that suffer wear, including expensive lasers. But with new models costing $300 and up, a Blu-ray player might be tempting if it's sold at a substantial discount and was bought less than a year ago - preferably six months or less.

Computers: Only relatively new PCs sold at a substantial discount might be tempting. Stick with brand names to make sure manuals, support and parts are readily available. And, don't buy desktops more than a year old or notebooks more than 3 months old. As with everything else on this list, you should visit the seller and make sure the device is working before committing to buy.

Flash-based MP3 players: Consider newer iPods and competitors that use memory chips for storage. Those solid-state drives are much less likely to fail. Just make sure the LCD screen isn't cracked, the USB port is clear and still working, and the device is otherwise functional.

Happy hunting!

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