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Monday, May 09, 2005

Used Notebook Inspection Guide -- Part 2

Used Notebook Quick Inspection Guide
By: The Editor
Used laptop computers are everywhere these days. How can you sift through the mass of available used laptop computers to narrow your search down to the right laptop for you? This is the second part of a series of articles designed to give you a few suggestions for your next purchase.

Assuming you've done the visual inspection mentioned in Part One, you're ready to power up the laptop and do some more digging.

Laptop Operating System

Does the laptop you're looking at come with an operating system? If not, it could be difficult for you to fully test the operation of the laptop. One good alternative to a built in operating system is to download and burn a copy of Knoppix. Knoppix is a linux operating system that runs off the CD-ROM drive instead of the hard drive. This allows you to test the laptop even if it doesn't have an operating system installed. You can find Knoppix at www.knoppix.com

Quick Power Up Inspection (continued...)

Power up the laptop if it already isn't on. Make sure to open the CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive that comes with the laptop. Look for USB ports and make sure they are in good repair. Locate the vent for the CPU fan (if it has one – most do) and listen to the sound it makes. If you hear any whining or grinding sounds, beware. This may be an indication that the CPU inside has not been getting proper cooling which can definitely lead to problems down the road like random crashes, shut downs, etc...

Examine the LCD Screen

Chances are, you're going to be staring at that screen an awful lot. Make sure the colors are stable and that there are no parts of the LCD screen that are washed out or discolored. Replacing an LCD screen is expensive. Better to find a problem with it before you buy it then afterwards.

Is the LCD screen bright enough for your needs? Some used laptops will have LCD screens that are too dim to be practical. Keep in mind that older laptops will often not be very bright in direct sunlight. They should all be bright in normal lighting conditions however.

Read Part 3