Picking up something used isn't just good for your wallet, it's good for the environment too (since you've likely kept another gadget out of landfills). While the decision to purchase used electronics is laudable from an environmental standpoint, there are many factors to consider before you head out to get a used laptop from someone you found on Craigslist.
Sustainablog.org took a hard look at what's important when buying a used laptop and came up with a, "10 Step Guide to Buying a Used Laptop That Works".
This is a really handy resource that covers many details that you likely wouldn't think about if you are used to buying your laptops new. A few highlights include:
Where to buy it.
Is the screen in good condition?
Check all the ports.
Test the hard drive for errors.
Check the battery life.
I'm a bit of a geek but if I would have purchased a used laptop last week I can guarantee I wouldn't have taken all of these precautions and I'm sure at least one of them would have come back to haunt me. If you're looking to pick up a used laptop you'd be a fool not to use these steps as a checklist.
The only thing the list left off was to make sure you check the price of a new machine before you buy since in my experience many sellers overestimate the value of their old computers. When you couple this tendency with the sinking price of laptops these days it may make more sense to buy new, especially if you pick up one of the super cheap laptops on Black Friday.