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You are here: MacNN Forums > Hardware - Troubleshooting and Discussion > Mac Notebooks > Apple refurbished Powerbooks

Apple refurbished Powerbooks
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rookie
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May 25, 2005, 02:12 PM
 
This is my first post, please be gentle

I noticed that Apple is selling refurbished 15" Powerbooks that come with the standard 1 year limited warranty. They offer the option of purchasing the 3 year warranty on top of that. My question is, has anyone ever bought a refurbished Powerbook from Apple before? Would this be recommended?

This will be my first Powerbook. I'm a big fan of larger displays and higher resolutions and I would love to own a 15" Powerbook but my wallet will only permit me buying a 12" model instead

If it's risky buying a refurbished item directly from them then I'll probably pick up a 12" PB this coming month.
     
Randman
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May 25, 2005, 02:16 PM
 
You do get a normal warranty. There have been people here who have bought refurbs and had no problems. There's probably as much of a chance getting something wrong on a new model as these repaired models.

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tooki
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May 25, 2005, 02:21 PM
 
I've heard of far more problems on refurbs than new units. I wouldn't buy one myself.

tooki
     
osxisfun
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May 25, 2005, 02:22 PM
 
I would not do it.

If did do it though i would not unless i lived close to an apple store.

and then only if i bought an apple pro care card for the PB. that way i can have quick turn arounds for repairs if something went bad.

i have just read too many bad stories but that's just me and i need my machine 12-14 hours a day. I figured if a new one lasted the first month ok then i would be ok. so far so good. i also wanted the 128 vram so i sprung for a BTO.

so far. very happy.
     
chabig
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May 25, 2005, 02:38 PM
 
I have and would again buy a refurb. I never had any problems with them. There is nothing to lose since you're getting the full factory warranty anyway. I think they are every bit as reliable as new, and maybe more so.

Chris
     
tcphoto
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May 25, 2005, 02:50 PM
 
I experienced a Powerbook meltdown with a 5 year old Powerbook in February. After looking at the refurbs and then new units at the Apple Store, I was prepared to buy a 12" with the budget I had. I went into a local Apple Store and ended up with a "Refreshed" 15". It had been returned and was marked with a remark stating, "buyers remorse". I saved $500. and it looked like it was new. His loss was my gain Call your local Apple Store and ask them if they have any open box returns.
     
osxisfun
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May 25, 2005, 02:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by tcphoto
I experienced a Powerbook meltdown with a 5 year old Powerbook in February. After looking at the refurbs and then new units at the Apple Store, I was prepared to buy a 12" with the budget I had. I went into a local Apple Store and ended up with a "Refreshed" 15". It had been returned and was marked with a remark stating, "buyers remorse". I saved $500. and it looked like it was new. His loss was my gain Call your local Apple Store and ask them if they have any open box returns.


"Refreshed" macs are good buys as basically the box was opened and it may have been run once.

this is a good tip.
     
Voch
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May 25, 2005, 03:17 PM
 
Still chuggin' along with my 2+ year old TiBook 667/DVI. Granted...I bought AppleCare for it with the savings difference...
     
chris v
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May 25, 2005, 03:28 PM
 
I currently own two Macs bought from the refurbished page. The Powerbook had the "white spot" problem, but so did most non-refurbished powerbooks of the same vintage. Apple fixed it right up w/o a qualm. The other is a dual 2.0 G5 that has been entirely trouble-free for 9 months, now.

When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift.
     
jfobart
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May 25, 2005, 03:52 PM
 
I'm a fan of refurb Apple products. Why not?

They carry the same warranty as a "new off the shelf" unit.
They carry a reduced price tag.

When I bought my 12", I used the savings to buy more RAM and a laptop bag.
When I bought my 2GHz G5 2 weeks ago I bought more RAM and a Raptor HD and software with the savings.

I think it's almost silly not to buy a refurb if you're concerned with bang for your buck.... but if you're lucky enough to have a money tree in the backyard then just buy new!
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sadpandas
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May 25, 2005, 05:58 PM
 
i saw they had a 1.67 refurb does anyone know if you can ask them to add 128 vram? or do you just get stock 64vram? i already have one but a friend is looking into getting one and at 2k doesnt seem like a bad price.
*Dual 2.8 quad core Mac Pro, 512 8800 GT, 1tb boot, 500gb audio, 340gb video, 6gb ram
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tekno_geek911
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May 25, 2005, 06:00 PM
 
I have had much better luck with refurbs than buying new....The PowerBook I have now is a refurb and there hasnt been a single problem.
::12" PowerBook G4 | 1.33GHz | 1.25GB | 60GB | APX | OS X 10.4.1::
::30GB iPod Photo::
     
osxisfun
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May 25, 2005, 06:08 PM
 
Originally Posted by sadpandas
i saw they had a 1.67 refurb does anyone know if you can ask them to add 128 vram? or do you just get stock 64vram? i already have one but a friend is looking into getting one and at 2k doesnt seem like a bad price.

128vrams are only BTO as far as i know.
     
jfobart
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May 25, 2005, 11:27 PM
 
With refurbs you never know- you might end up with BTO options, you might not.

The sales guy can't (or won't) say, because they're only allowed to sell you on the stock machine. If it comes with configurations exceeding the stock machine, it's just a free bonus for you.

But I wouldn't count on getting any BTO options. IT would be nice if you could do BTO's on refurbs- but then again, if you're looking to save some money, you have to give up something right?
A couple MacPro's, a MacBook Pro, a PC, and an iPod.
     
luxx78
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May 26, 2005, 12:18 AM
 
I've been using a refurb 15" powerbook for a year and a half now, and it has been working perfectly since day one. No white spots, no dead pixels. I also picked up a refurb IPOD, same story - cosmetically it was perfect and it worked w/o a hitch. I would definitely buy refurbished products form Apple again.
     
drmcnutt
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May 26, 2005, 01:48 AM
 
I bought a refurb in October. It came loaded with 128 vram and 512MB memory in one slot. I was very pleased with the purchase. No problems.
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millysecond
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May 26, 2005, 09:24 AM
 
I highly advise against buying a refurbished powerbook, but I have only one bad personal experience with it. Last December I purchased a 1.0GHz 12" refurb that came with about 3 dead pixels all in a row (all stuck black), the casing was scratched and scuffed in places, and some of the keys were slightly broken and didn't lay as flat as they should. I was extremely dissapointed. After enough bickering with an Apple representative, they allowed me to return it without a restocking fee.

I subsequently purchased a 1.33 15" rev. b immediately after the rev. c's came out in February, and got a great deal by purchasing the 'old' model, especially combined with the edu discount.

I will never purchase a refurb from the apple store again. If you're willing to take a chance and waste some time fighting with Apple to take it back, by all means you may get a wonderful deal :-)

-B
     
jewing80
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May 26, 2005, 10:39 AM
 
I’ve always been reluctant to purchase anything that has been refurbished but in March of 2004 the “deal” was simply too good to pass up. If memory serves the then-current crop of PowerBooks were EOL and reports were rampant of forum members receiving brand-new retail boxed machines instead of the brown-boxed refurbished units. I pulled the proverbial trigger and the next morning my PowerBook arrived.

I have to admit I was a bit disappointed to see the brown box but it wasn’t a big deal; after all I had purchased a refurbished unit and that’s what I got! My initial cosmetic inspection yielded a few scratches on the bottom case and a couple swirl marks but nothing really detrimental. The real trouble started as soon as I opened the screen for the first time. It became immediately evident there was a major problem with the right palm rest; specifically it protruded up from the case a few millimeters. Initially I hopped that one of the internal clips had come loose and I tried to push the palm rest back down, this only caused the problem to get worse. I decided to see how bad the problem was by lifting up the palm rest; I could see into the optical drive bay quite easily. I then knew the problem was greater than a sprung clip or missing screw. I immediately called the Apple Store on-line and was referred to Apple Care. The Apple Care rep was kind and apologetic but couldn’t offer me any help beyond, “send it in for repair.” When I suggested a return he told me he wasn’t authorized, I would have to speak to the Apple Store people again.

After another call I was given two options by the Apple Store representative: 1. Send the unit in for service 2. Return the unit and pay a restocking fee.

Neither of these options was acceptable so I wrote a detailed and relatively cordial e-mail detailing the situation and expressing my concern with Apple’s ability to properly service/refurbish/certify their products. Not assembling a case correctly causing one full corner to be completely unsecured does not constitute simple oversight; it constitutes incompetence. I purposed three solutions (listed here from least feasible to most): 1. Provide me with some sort of documentation on how an error like this could occur as well as the steps that have been taken to ensure it won’t happen again; only then would I be willing to let a tech work on the machine. 2 Replace my defective unit with a new PowerBook. 3. Allow me to return the defective unit sans a restocking fee.

As many of you can probably guess Apple chose option number three. Their response was curt and non apologetic but in all honesty that was fine with me. Actions speak much louder than words and their willingness to remedy the situation was much more important than the tone of their e-mail.

My advice: buy at your own risk! In all likelihood you will probably end up with an acceptable machine just be prepared for some resistance if you don’t.

Jake
     
FeralCat
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May 26, 2005, 10:48 AM
 
Hmmm. My refurbished 12" 1.5 Ghz PowerBook is being shipped to me right now (should arrive tomorrow). I'll write in when I get it with impressions and maybe a picture or two. Then again, anecdotes do not imply what will happen in your case; I agree that buying a refurb is slightly risky. Is it riskier than buying a brand new machine? Maybe. Is it worth saving $300 to take a slight risk that is moderated by the warrenty? To me, it is (obviously, since I took that risk).

To say it another way: If having the chances of a perfect purchasing moment when your machine arrives be significantly higher is worth $200-$300 to you, then go for it. Keep in mind that buying new doesn't guarentee a perfect experience, either.

Edited to say: I would recommend paying the little extra for air shipping if you do get one; waiting for FedEx ground from Sacramento to Illinois is killing me!
     
mdc
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May 26, 2005, 11:07 AM
 
in the beginning of last year i bought a brand new 12" powerbook with the superdrive. iirc it wsa $1800 or so. a few weeks later i came across a refurb top of the line 15" (the superdrive, backlit keyboard model) for $1999. i could not pass it up. i found a friend who would buy my 12" for what i paid for it and i ordered the 15".

i am typing on it now.
i have had 4 problems with it since the day i bought it.
1. the sleep light did not work.
2. the monitor backlight died one day
3. the latch to close the monitor stopped working
3. the hard drive died a few weeks ago

the lack of a sleep light did not bother me. i decided to wait until something major happened and then send it away.
the monitor dying happened to my (not refurb) g3 800 ibook that i bought a few years ago. so i did not blame it on the refurb.
the latch breaking i blame on booq and their powersleeve 15 that is *far* too big for a 15" powerbook, causing my powerbook to bounce around inside the sleeve.
the hard drive i have no idea why it died, but it did.

the hard drive is my main issue, i have had it replaced since then and it is working again very nicely. and i would buy another refurbished laptop.
     
rookie  (op)
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May 26, 2005, 11:14 AM
 
I would like to thank you all for posting.

FeralCat: Please do post again once you have received your Powerbook.

jewing80: That sucks! That is pretty much what I'm afraid of when it comes to refurbished hardware.

I must admit that after reading all of these comments, I don't think I'll be investing any money in a refurbished laptop. I know I'll have the warranty but I can't say that I'll want to play the waiting game by having to ship it in for repair, if need be.

Having said that, is there any site that you can recommend which details problems issues people are experiencing with Apple products? So far I have been referring to the Mac Buyer's Guide. That has proven to be quite useful so far. I read about the Powerbook & iBook battery recall over there. A site that has a section devoted to Mac products with all current issues listed would be an excellent resource right about now.
     
blkdog7
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May 26, 2005, 11:25 AM
 
I have a roughly 3 year old refurbished Powerbook 500 G4 Ti and I have never had any problems whatsoever. I highly recommend going this route! My Powermac G4 733 was also an Apple refurb purchase, that has been another great machine! I have had much luck with these products, go for it!
     
olePigeon
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May 26, 2005, 12:47 PM
 
*edit* Nevermind, started a cool thread.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods,
you will understand why I dismiss yours." - Stephen F. Roberts
     
osxisfun
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May 26, 2005, 12:52 PM
 
getting a refurb only to find it it had scratches would drive me bonkers.

not getting a refurb let's me tell the guy i sell my PB to that its brand new and has one owner...

just another 2 cents.
     
FeralCat
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May 29, 2005, 02:08 PM
 
Well, I got my 12" refurb PowerBook G4, at least briefly. Unfortunately, there was a problem. Full gallery (5 pics).

The exterior was perfect; no scratches, blemishes or marks. Upon boot, everything seemed fine until I got 5 minutes into the registration process, then this happened:



(Sorry, you'll need to go to the site linked above to see the full size pictures, because I can't trace the link because of how Homepage gets set up.)

You can see that the registration screen was scrunched down to about 80% of the size of the display, and the screen was jittery (constantly moving). I panicked and hard rebooted the machine, which then came up fine. I registered, backed up all the apps like OmniOutliner, OmniGraffle, etc., then erase-installed Tiger (which came with it) on the harddrive. Everything was fine through this whole process until I rebooted from the 10.4.1 upgrade, when 5 minutes after reboot, it happened again.

I called AppleCare right away, and they had me zap the PRAM and power manager "just in case". But, they opened a case, and said if it happened again that it would be replaced. Well, it didn't happen again after many reboots, though I knew that it had nothing to do with the PRAM or power management. The next day, my wife and I took a trip to the Indianapolis AppleStore, where, lo and behold, it happened for the 3rd time as one of the Geniuses was watching. So, it's going back to Apple via the Apple Store. I'll update here whether it is actually replaced w/ a new PowerBook or is repaired. It wasn't clear whether it would be replaced, according to the AppleStore phone operator, it would only be replaced w/ a new PowerBook if it was deemed "unrepairable" by the techs. So, maybe I'll get a brand new PowerBook instead of the refurb, or maybe I'll just get it fixed. Either way, I don't mind and am not mad.

The way I see it, I still saved $200 off the price of the laptop. There was no guarentee that if I had bought a brand new machine that the same thing wouldn't have happened. This is the second PowerBook I've purchased myself, and I worked as a developer for a Mac OS X development startup. That company bought 2 G4 iMacs, 2 G4 towers, a 12" PowerBook (that I used), a G3 iBook and a G3 iMac. Of all these machines over a 2 year period, the dual G4 tower had a bad processor card on arrival (it was brand new), and had to be sent back. The blue iMac G3 developed a display problem (fading colors on the CRT, flickering, etc.) and was sent in under AppleCare. The iBook's HD died and was replaced. The latch on the 12" PowerBook pulled off and was sent in for repair.

In all these cases, repairs were made under warranty with no problems and quick turn around. None of the machines were marked up in any way. I'm fairly confident that this PowerBook will be repaired, or if they can't fix it, it will be replaced. So, I'll be patient and see what happens. In short: I'd buy another refurb machine even after this experience.
     
mdc
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May 29, 2005, 02:50 PM
 
sorry to hear about that. it is horrible to get something new and then have to take it back and wait for a replacement/reapair.

last year i bought a 12" powerbook (combo drive). i took it home, opened it up and the speaker was dead. every time the powerbook made a noise it sounded like the speaker was about to blow up. this was a brand new powerbook.
my refurbished 15" i bought about two months later did not have any serious issues.

like you said, you have a chance of getting something like this with a brand new product.
     
webb3201
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May 29, 2005, 09:33 PM
 
I am actually a fan of refurbs from a manufacturer. For some reason, this machine was sent back to Apple, who then had a technician take it apart and make sure it was all working. The machine had to go through QA twice, and was most likely highly scrutinzed the second time. You get the same warranty terms and save a bit of cash. Go for it. I have purchased three from Apple and have always been happy. I even like the plain brown boxes.
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FeralCat
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Jun 1, 2005, 08:41 AM
 
Got my repair confirmation this morning at about 6:30 CDT. So, it's arrived at Apple's repair depot, and they'll mail again when it's fixed. I'll keep you guys updated, if anyone wants.
     
jman
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Jun 1, 2005, 01:32 PM
 
Stay away from refurb apple laptops!

Bought a 15inch 1.5Ghz refurb back in December 2004. I got it delivered and it worked fine. I did notice that the slot loading Disc drive had a dent over it, just enough so the disc would rub it when you loaded a disc. I called apple and they said i would have to send in my computer for repair and it would take around two weeks. A 2week repair on a computer they justshipped to me. Are they crazy? I told them I wanted my money back and returned the computer. To get my money refunded took a whole week. Don't buy from the online store unless you have to. The Apple Stores have great sevice and you have 30 days to return the computer for any reason.
I bought my 15inch Ai 1.67Ghz Ultimate Package form the Apple store in Nashua, NH and avoided sales tax too!
     
flanders
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Jun 1, 2005, 04:42 PM
 
At least my local apple store has "refreshed" machines all the time. At least you could probably inspect before you buy. I've never had any trouble with Apple refurbished though--most show up looking brand new.
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jman
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Jun 1, 2005, 04:47 PM
 
They even let me setup my machine in-store. I sat at the genius bar and used the airport connection to run all the software updates. The Apple Genius didn't mind and gave me some good advice too.
     
FeralCat
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Jun 2, 2005, 06:19 AM
 
Well, they said they replaced the main logic board and have shipped it back. It should arrive today, and if it does, I'll post when I get it.

jman, sorry you had a problem with your machine. I was told that my repair could take up to 2 weeks, but if I get it today, it'll be a 3 day turn-around. Of course, since I dropped it off on Saturday, and Monday was a holiday, it's more like 5 days, but whatever. As long as it comes back now without problems, I'll be happy. If it comes back with problems, well, I'm going to have a nice long talk with Apple, aren't I?

If you want to save money, and have patience, get a refurb. If you want something perfect the first time, definitely go to an Apple Store and purchase it there.

EDIT: DHL screwed up and sent my baby to somewhere 45 minutes away from here (Decatur, IL). So, now I have to wait until tomorrow to get it, because they couldn't make the 1.5 hour round trip to correct their own mistake? Well, I didn't know that they wouldn't do that until I just called them at about 3:15, and the person at DHL said she is going to try to get them to "special courier" it over to me today. Let's hope that they will do that.

Is it just me, or was I reasonable to think that they would just put it on a truck and _drive_ it over instead of put it on a pallet and send it the next day?
( Last edited by FeralCat; Jun 2, 2005 at 04:54 PM. )
     
FeralCat
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Jun 3, 2005, 10:05 PM
 
Well, I did get it today, and there have been no further problems. I haven't rebooted it but the one time so far, so I can't be completely assured that there are no issues, but I'll post if anything else bad comes up.

I can't say how much I love the scrolling function of the track-pad, but that's a whole different thread...
     
   
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