For the first time in six years, I got a new laptop. After lots of poking around in Dell’s Outlet center, I picked out a Dell Precision Mobile Workstation M4300. I love it! Fantastic 1920×1200 graphics, 2GB of RAM, and a plenty-fast Intel Core 2 Duo 2.2GHz processor, plus a big hard drive and fast wireless make this a real step up from my old Dell Inspiron 2300 (1.5GHz Intel Pentium-M, 512MB of RAM, 30GB hard drive, and 1024×768 graphics).
It was listed as a “Scratch and Dent,” which means that it’s tested to work like a new computer but may have significant cosmetic problems. I took a chance, figuring that as long as it worked, I wasn’t too concerned with how it looked. The “scratch” in this case was a couple of small scratches along the bottom of the computer (barely visible to the naked eye), plus some goo left over from a sticker that was removed. A couple of minutes and some goo-gone solved that, and the scratch is no worst than I’m liable to do in regular use.
On the “works like new” front, though, I did run into a problem. When running on battery power, the machine would only go for about 15 minutes (at most) before it simply cut off. No warning, just dead. You could reboot and usually get as far as loading the OS, but then it would die again.
Dell’s support was fantastic (an advantage to buying the high-end machine is that all of the support is US-based, and handled by more highly trained techs). They replaced the battery, but that didn’t solve it, so the next day there was a tech in my office to replace the motherboard and CPU. Problem solved.
The best part about the “Scratch and Dent”? Nearly half price for the machine! This would have priced out to around $2,200 brand new, but I got it for a little over $1,000. A great deal!
All in all, highly recommended. If you’re interested: Go to the Dell website (Full disclosure: that’s a link to my affiliate account, so I make a couple of bucks if you buy something) and click on the Dell Outlet > Laptops link in the top menu. You can browse around the available machines and find something that works for you. I poked around over the course of about three weeks until just the right machine was available; it’s worth taking your time and getting to know the inventory really well. But you can get some great deals if you poke around a bit and know what to look for.