Bought a Laptop?
You've looked at the seller and the product and found confidence, went ahead with the sale and finally the package has arrived.
Well regardless of if the laptop is new or used it has to be as per description and that needs to be checked. There are a few easy steps to do that.
1 - The package itself
Physical objects are prone to damage. Unfortunately when it comes to laptops it is all too true. When the package arrives and you have to sign for it, take a quick moment to look at the package itself. We are looking for signs of severe damage, like torn surface, dents, cuts, etc. Remember if there is like a hole through the box size of a tennis ball, don't sign for the parcel, let it go back. If you have a camera handy (almost all phones these days have decent cameras) take a snap of it.
2 - Contents
So the package was fine, you have signed for the parcel and taken it in. Open the parcel and do a quick check of all the contents as it was advertised: The laptop, charger, driver discs, laptop bag, manuals, or any thing that the seller had promised to include. Also, the receipt (if advised that they will provide)is very important as many manufacturer will ask for it at time of providing warranty.
3 - External Physical Check
Next, have a quick look at the laptop itself. Are there any signs of damage, scratches, etc. Also check for signs of tampering, like is the serial number sticker intact. Are the there any signs that the screws were taken off at any time. Open the lid and see if there are any signs of wear or scratches at the workspace or screen. The point of all this is that new should be just that, NEW, not ex-demo, not ex-lease, not ex-anything except just brand spanking new.
If the seller claimed the product to be ex-demo or used that is different. Take the item description into consideration in that case. For a used laptop you need to be prepared to forgive some signs of wear as it probably has traveled a little, been on many desks, typed many documents, heck maybe even gone to bed with the user (to be used as a lap-top).. etc, etc.
Though normal wear by use is fine (such as faded keyboard prints, or touchpad too shiny), unmentioned damage is not fine. Cracks, corners chipped, dents, screen marks, will not do. Take a picture and communicate to the seller straight away.
3 - Ports
In general most ports are physically ok, except where the charger connects. Plug in the charger and see if the laptop starts to charge as it should. Almost all laptop has some form of indicator that lights up to indicate its charging even when the laptop is shut. Also take a USB stick and check if it plugs in normally to all the USB ports and you are not needing to push with force or its too loose, etc.
4 - Turn on
So lets now turn the laptop on. It should start normally with no bios errors. It should proceed to loading Windows or Linux or Unix or which ever operating system that was meant to be preloaded and this should happen as you expect it to without errors (specially the blue screen)
5 - The screen
Once the computer is started and loaded to desktop. Move the screen all the way back as much it can be adjusted and then bring it towards closing till the screen shuts. What we are looking for is if the screen flickers or turns off abruptly, or brightness fades in and out abnormally all these are bad signs. A good screen will stay constant when you adjust it.
Next dead pixel test.
Turn the screen black, you can do so by any means, say set the background to black or that Windows Logo Screen saver will do just fine. What we are looking for is a bright spot on the dark screen. It will be very small like a spec of dust, except dust will wipe off with a soft cloth, a dead pixel will keep twilling like a distant star. No good if you see one.
This time turn your screen grey. Change the background or open MS Paint and maximize it and do a grey fill, etc. What we are looking for is uneven image. Bruising will be visible like smoke commonly in deep blue tint. This means that the screen has suffered an injury. Not good, it will not heal itself.
There are some third party applications available to test the screen with. Keeping one handy is a good idea.
6 - Sound
Play your favorite song - on the laptop :-)
The sound should be clean. If there is a sound controller dial use it. Turn it to low completely and then turn it to high. The sound should fade out and get louder normally, it should not crackle. At near maximum sound the sound may distort, this is due to most laptop has very basic speakers and are not meant to be used as a party sound system.
7 - The Configuration
We did a basic physical test, now lets see we actually got all the components right. A quick look at the System Properties (Right click on the my computer then properties, the window will vary depending on which operating system there is), but the basic configuration should be visible straight away. Check how much ram there is, the CPU model/speed. Also at the Hardware manager you can find other details such as the type of graphics card, sound card, LAN, Modem, etc. The configuration should match exactly, if the model numbers were mentioned match them else you may end up with an inferior part while the bidding went on for the higher value part as advertised.
8 - The keyboard
For a used laptop this test is essential. Open notepad and start typing each key one at a time. Considering if the laptop has been used on a office desk only before it may look very fresh, but it has probably had good work days of long documents being typed. Every key should work, they should not be getting stuck, nor skip, just simple normal type touch should work the key. You should not need to press firmly on any key to work, this may mean excessive wear.
9 - Battery Test
Now that most things are looking ok, time to test the battery. So far the charger has been connected for some time thus there should be some charge even if it arrived totally flat. Gently unplug the charger from the laptop. The laptop should not instantly shut as this is the sign of a dead battery. The laptop should continue to work and perhaps change the power profile automatically (dimmed screen, etc). Plug in the charger and let it charge fully. Once the battery is fully charged unplug it again and put in a DVD and play the movie (This also tests out the optical drive). The idea is to get the laptop to spend the battery charge. What we are looking for is that the charge should decrease gradually, like 98% .. 95% ... 80%.. etc, counting down smoothly and slowly with time. If there is a jump, like its at 95% and the next thing you see 10%, there are dead cells in the battery. Meaning the battery is not dead... yet, but on its way..
10 - Software
If the seller promised there will be software pre-installed, check for them. Antivirus, Office programs or anything that he/she said the laptop has should have like the version of Windows (xp pro, 7 64-bit, Ununtu, etc...). Also check if the Antivirus actually have the duration of subscription time left as mentioned. (This applies to paid ones like Norton, McAfee, etc, free ones are fine).
So that was the 10 steps. If the laptop passes all these tests you are ok, but as a rule take at least 14 days before you leave feedback as issues that were not visible at first may appear with some use. Also take the time to call the manufacturer (e.g. - HP, Sony, Toshiba, etc) and quote the serial number to verify the warranty as specified by the seller. Some dodgy seller will tamper with the serial number for they were up to no good, and this is absolutely not forgivable. Also if you found an issue that is of concern enough to have the item returned, try and make that camera handy. A picture is worth a thousand words and will be handy if there is a PayPal dispute. But if no issue appears and all seems to be going strong do give the gentleman a happy feedback and