If you are looking to buy tech for a serious discount, buying used or refurbished is the way to go. A lot of people think that used and refurbished are the same thing. In reality, there are several big differences between used and refurbished that you should know before going out and buying a tech toy or piece of tech for work.

A refurbished item is actually a product that has been restored to new or like-new condition either by the manufacturer themselves or a third party entity.


When you go and buy a refurbished item, it usually comes with a warranty just like a new product does from the manufacturer. If you are lucky, you might find a used item that comes with a warranty, but the chances are that you won’t find that to be the case often, if ever. So, when buying a used or refurbished piece of tech, keep this in mind if a warranty is important to you.

Physical Condition

When a product is refurbished, it is supposed to look just like if you were to buy it brand new from the manufacturer, and most of the time this is the case. Usually, the refurbishing process for a tech product will include replacing parts like faceplates, chassis, knobs, buttons, and whatever else the product might need replaced.

A used item on the other hand, has no new parts. It has the same parts as when it was originally sold. That means that whatever damage or wear that has been done to it will still be there when you buy it. As mentioned above, that could be a problem due to the lack of warranties on used items.


Not very often will you see an original manufacturer sell a used product. Sometimes a manufacturer will lease products out to a big company for a certain amount of time, and then when the lease is up, the company will send the product back and the original manufacturer might then sell the product or lease it again.

That is about as close to selling a used product as it gets for original manufacturers. This doesn’t happen very often because the products are usually too old after being leased out, otherwise the company that leased it from them would probably just keep them. Original manufacturers do sell refurbished items though.

If you are buying a used item, the majority of the time you will be buying it from either a third party vendor or an individual and not the manufacturer. If you are dealing with a business that isn’t of the highest quality, they may try to sell used items as refurbished even though they aren’t. This is just bad business, but it does happen sadly.

If you are dealing with a big company that sells refurbished goods or the original manufacturer directly, then you are probably going to get exactly what they say you are, and it is truly refurbished when they say it is. When you are buying from a smaller vendor, you are risking getting a used item instead of a refurbished one.

If the vendor is selling a refurbished item with no warranty or is selling an item “as is” then the chances are that it is a used item and not actually refurbished like they say.

The Age of the Item

When an item is too old to refurbish and resell, a manufacturer will discontinue it. this means that they no longer support the item and they also do not sell it new anymore. The manufacturer will just find a different way to make money on these items. If a product is still available from the manufacturer as new, then you can probably still find a refurbished version with a warranty and everything that comes a long with a new one. If the item is discontinued, you will usually only find used versions of it without warranties.

The easiest way to tell if a product is discontinued is to go to the manufacturers website and see if you can still buy it new from them. If the item is no longer listed on the manufacturers site, then it is probably discontinued. If you are lucky, the manufacturer will list discontinued items on their website for you upfront, but you may have to dig through their list of products one at a time to see if you can find the one you are looking for.

There is a timeframe in which discontinued items are still supported by manufacturers shortly after they are discontinued. This can range anywhere from a month or two to a couple years depending on what it is. Software tends to be supported longer than just about anything after being discontinued, but it really just depends on the how the manufacturer deals with discontinued items really.


This has a lot do to with numbers 3 and 4 in this list. Models of items that are still being sold as new are obviously supported and can usually be found as a refurbished item as well. These items have support which makes it easy for you when you run into a problem because you can call for support from the manufacturer. If you end up buying used, they usually have no support at all, but if you are lucky, you might find a third party that has support for the item. You shouldn’t count on that though.

Final Thoughts

When buying tech products, it is usually best if you buy a refurbished item that still has support and warranties instead of buying used. The refurbishing process is a lot better than it was in the past for those of you that have had bad experiences with the use of them. If you are not worried about support or warranties, then used items may be a route you go with, but just keep in mind that you are stuck with what you get if you go that route, and with no help.