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How to Find the Right Computer to Become and eBay Power User

You don’t have to know a lot of fancy computer mumbo-jumbo to do well on eBay, but you must have a computer. If you’re in the market for a computer, you can buy a new, used, or refurbished system, depending on your computing needs.

The absolute necessities

Although the following list is geared mainly toward the purchase of new PCs, you should read this info even if you’re thinking of buying a used computer:

  • Look for a computer with a good memory. The more time you spend using your computer, the more stuff you want to save on your hard drive. The more stuffed your hard drive, the farther back in time it goes. Buy the biggest hard drive your budget affords you — because no matter how large your hard drive is, you’ll find a way to fill it up.

  • Consider a backup drive as large as 1.5 TB. Backing up your data on a regular basis can help save you from the many disasters that sometimes befall a computer that’s active on the Internet. You can find new 1TB drives for sale on eBay for under $75.

  • Make sure you have a top-quality modem. Your modem connects your computer to the Internet using a telephone line or broadband cable. Even if you have a high-speed connection, you will need a modem that connects you to the Internet. A 56Kbps modem is the old-school standard; these days you can easily expect 1Gbps from a wired high-speed connection.

  • Get a big screen. An LCD or LED monitor that has at least a 23-inch screen and a resolution of at least 1920 x 1080 pixels can make a huge difference after several hours of rabid listing, bidding, or proofreading your item descriptions. If your monitor is smaller, you may have a hard time actually seeing the listings and images.

  • Make sure the computer’s central processing unit (CPU) is fast. A CPU is your computer’s brain. It should be the fastest you can afford. You can always opt for the top of the line, but even a slower 2 GHz processor could suffice. If you want lightning-fast speed, you have to move up to at least a 3.2 GHz quad-core processor.

  • Include an optical drive. A disc burner is no longer standard equipment. You may use the drive to load new software programs into your computer from DVD discs. You can also use the discs for your backups. Most models play and record DVD movies on your computer, but you can skip the frills and save the bucks.

  • You must have a keyboard. No keyboard, no typing. The basic keyboard is fine. They do make funky ergonomic models, but if the good old standard keyboard feels comfortable to you, stick with it.

    Different keyboards have different feels. Test out several keyboards and see which one suits your typing style.

  • You need a pointing device, usually a mouse. Some laptops come with touchpads or trackballs designed to do the same thing — give you a quick way to move the pointer around the screen so you can select options by clicking.

Used computers

If you don’t have a computer yet and don’t have much money to spend, you might want to investigate the used market. Thousands of perfectly good used machines are floating around looking for a caring home. You can pick up a model that’s a few years old for a couple of hundred dollars, and it will serve your budding eBay needs just fine.

The same holds true for used Macs. Make sure a monitor is included in the purchase price. eBay’s sellers sell their old computers when they upgrade. You can get some great deals.

Refurbished computers

If you don’t feel comfortable buying a used machine, you may want to consider a factory-refurbished model. These are new machines that were returned to the manufacturer for one reason or another. The factory fixes them so they’re nice and spiffy and then sweetens the deal with a warranty. What you’re getting is a new computer at a deep discount because the machine can’t be resold legally as new.

For the most part, refurbished computers are defined as returns, units with blemishes, or evaluation units. The factories rebuild them to the original working condition, using new parts. They come with 60- to 90-day warranties that cover repairs and returns. Warranty information is available on the manufacturers’ websites. Be sure to read it before you purchase a refurbished computer.

Major computer manufacturers such as Dell, IBM, Sony, Hewlett-Packard, and Apple provide refurbished computers. Check whether their websites have outlet stores. For example, you can visit the HP, Sony or Dell sites for closeouts and refurbished goods all the time.

Because the inventory of refurbished computers changes daily (as do the prices), there’s no way of telling exactly how much money you can save by buying refurbished instead of new. Find a new computer system you like (and can afford) in a store or a catalog and then compare it with refurbished systems.

Upgrade your system with the help of eBay

You can get a new or used computer system at a great price by signing on to eBay before you buy your computer. You can get online at a local library or ask to borrow a friend’s computer. Often such systems also come loaded with software. And when you have your new system in shape, why not auction off your old system on eBay?

You can also find on eBay all the bits and pieces you need to upgrade your computing system. The items you may find most useful include

  • Digital cameras and scanners

  • DVD drives and flash memory cards

  • Monitors

  • Printers

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