Used or refurbished electronic devices are obviously cheaper than new ones, but they’re also more sustainable for the environment. If those benefits convince you, what do you need to look out for when buying secondhand?

You can find plenty of secondhand electronics in online marketplaces. Manufacturers also often offer refurbished devices at lower prices in their online stores.

Electronics product tester Wolfgang Pauler says buying used devices from the manufacturer is always a good idea, because they will have been properly refurbished and tested. “This may be a little more expensive, but there is a warranty and right of return,” he says.

Phones: Check the battery

In general, you should pay attention to any component that can wear out and foremost among these is the battery, especially when it comes to smartphones.

“The runtime here can be considerably shorter than with new devices,” warns industry expert Christian Woelbert.

According to Pauler, rechargeable batteries can easily withstand 500 to 1,000 charging cycles. After a couple of years of daily charging a battery may have lost a significant amount of its original capacity.

In the case of reconditioned smartphones the battery may have been replaced as part of the process. In the case of tablets, the battery is more durable and subjected to less stress than in a smartphone.

Cameras: Go big, not compact

Buying a used compact camera makes little sense, according to Pauler. Buying a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) or system camera, on the other hand, might be worthwhile if you inspect it carefully first.

Some problems may not be obvious. The lens and image sensor could have damage such as scratches, dirt, and dust that are barely visible to the naked eye.

Using the camera’s software you can find out how many photos the camera has taken. However, that won’t tell you much about the condition of the lens or the sensor.

Consoles: Listen to the fan

Before buying a used game console, you should ask the seller if the console has ever been defective. According to Pauler, some faults can reappear even after a repair. You should also check the console’s compatibility with the latest games.

Pauler advises you to check that the fan and the drive sound normal. If too much dust has accumulated inside, cooling will be less effective, which in turn can shorten the lifespan of the components.

It’s also important that the ports are not worn or loose, and that the controller and joystick are in good condition. Because controllers contain batteries that are subject to heavy use, the runtime could be shorter than with new devices.

TVs: Watch for burn-in

Buying a TV second-hand can be worthwhile. Here, major signs of wear are unlikely — after all, the TV is usually safe and dry in the living room. Only with OLED devices is some caution required.

That’s especially true of TVs that were on display in a retail outlet, Pauler says: “They are often operated with extreme brightness and played with the same picture material all the time.” That can result in some colours being “burnt-in” to the screen.

If the TV is more than three- or four-years-old, it probably doesn’t support all the latest standards, such as high-contrast display (HDR).

And if the TV’s operating system hasn’t received an update in a while, apps from streaming services or media libraries might not work.

However, this can easily be solved by buying a streaming stick, which are available from around US$30 (RM126.55). – dpa

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