Chromebooks have gained traction in the world of education, primarily because of their variety of uses to both students and teachers. But, they are now breaking ground for personal use too, with one of their biggest advantages being the Chrome OS and the 6 years of support that you can get. As long as your hardware supports it, you’ll keep getting all the new features, security updates and neat little tweaks will be readily available for your used Chromebook.
Because of this, they make a great second-hand purchase, if you know what to look for. Here are some things you should look for when purchasing a used Chromebook to make sure it’s a good investment.
The Visible Stuff
The most obvious thing you should check for when inspecting a used Chromebook is the smaller visible details. Not just turning it on and making sure the OS boots up, but also checking these elements too:
- Keys – Make sure all the keys are present and press down, but also check their Sometimes a little mishap like spilling some juice onto the keyboard can wreak havoc on its functionality.
- Display – While you might easily notice a scratch or crack, you should also look for dead pixels; you will spot them easily on a black background, as they will have different colors: red, green, etc. Also, some of them might not light up at all, so be sure to check on a white background as well.
- Battery – Batteries are usually the first to go, especially if they are used and charged improperly. Make sure that the Chromebook you’re interested in is also running on battery only and if you can, check how long the battery holds.
- Power supply – Once you see the battery is still working, also make sure to check the power supply. Ask the seller to plug in the power supply, so you can see whether it’s charging. Although you can easily buy replacement chargers, you are also checking that the port works too which is a much bigger issue.
- Ports – Check all the ports that the Chromebook you are interested in has, including the SD card slot, USB, audio jack, etc. If you can, plug something into each of them, but as a minimum, check for any signs of damage, wear or debris stuck in them.
- Casing– Look for dents, cracks, scratches, and so on. Because Chromebooks are made to be portable, they are often roughly handled and might suffer the occasional bump in a backpack. While these can often be superficial, if you notice a lot of scuffs and knocks, you might want to consider the care (or not) that has been taken with the Chromebook as an indicator to how it may be functioning too.
The Not-So-Obvious Stuff
Because Chromebooks have a long lifespan, they are updated frequently and are supported even years after release. Still, there comes a moment when the hardware that is in an older model can’t support some of the new features you may be looking for. This doesn’t spell immediate doom, but eventually, you will have to upgrade to a newer model and you need to know whether it’s worth it or not. Be sure to check the following:
- The initial release date – This is important because, for instance, Chromebooks released before the end of 2015 don’t support Android apps. so the release date is an excellent indicator for updates.
- Touchscreen support – Make sure the Chromebook has touchscreen support, especially if it supports Android apps. Even with a full keyboard, some apps handle touch better.
- The Camera – Check the specs of the camera and whether it still works.
- Pen input support – Not every model supports Pen input, so make sure yours does if you take notes often or draw and sketch in your free time.
Internal specifications are something that many don’t check thoroughly. Whether this plays a crucial role for you depends entirely on what you need from the device. If you just need something portable that you will just use for browsing, specs won’t play a big role.
Chromebooks can run efficiently on hardware that is often not even as strong as the one in an average phone. But, some things to consider include:
- RAM – Always go for 4GB at a minimum. Although 2GB might seem okay to you, having more will make things much easier because of the way Chrome OS caches data.
- Pre-2015 Chromebooks – All Chromebooks released before the last quarter of 2015, be careful about the processor. These models were released with either an ARM or Intel processors, and early ARM processors just don’t pack enough of a punch. Multitasking was a bit of an issue for them back then and you may find it more trouble than it’s worth.
- Future proofing – Making sure to read about what is coming next and what was announced will give you a good idea on what to look for in a used Chromebook. For instance, Google demonstrated installation of Linux applications on their Pixelbook and announced that this will be coming to Chromebooks with Intel processors. Having such information will help you decide which used Chromebook would be the best option for you.
Purchasing a pre-owned Chromebook is a sound idea, particularly because new models are released every year that could be overkill (and overpriced) for what you need. Still, many will sell their current model for the latest one and you can get a great deal, as long as you know what to look for and make sure it’s a good investment.