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Buying Used Tech Gear: It’s Okay Today

CANON Rebel XTi Digital SLR Kit $500 via

Do you want to buy some new tech gear, but your budget is a little tight? Does buying second-hand electronics make you nervous? Well, hopefully I can help put your mind at ease. I buy used tech gear a few times a year (both for myself and for others,) and it’s something I advocate to friends and family on a regular basis. Armed with some research and a few pointers, you can safely and successfully buy used.

The simultaneously frustrating and incredible fact of buying electronics is that they don’t stay “new” for very long.  Kraft Dinner boxes can be labelled “new” right on the box for over a year, but that just doesn’t fly in the world of technology. By the time a new Apple iPad hits the shelves, the inventors are already working on the next two generations that will hit the market over a year later. Brand loyalists will continue to buy each and every model that is released. And while they feed their addiction to that new-tech smell, you can pick up their “old gear” for a good price. You just have to keep a few things in mind:

Do your research

Part of making an informed decision is researching what you want to buy. There are hundreds of review sites out there and if that specific electronic device is known for being a lemon (or consistently receives one and a half out of five stars,) then maybe think a little harder on whether or not you want to try it out for yourself.

Inspect before you buy

One thing to remember when purchasing electronic equipment is that it’s best if you can inspect it before you buy it. This is a no-brainer if you’re buying in-store, but it’s usually impossible if you’re using an online auction site like eBay. Sellers often post stock photos they’ve grabbed from product websites instead of a photo of the actual item you’re bidding on. And don’t forget the shipping & handling fees, plus border fees if you’re buying outside your country.

Right now, I’m in the market for a camera – a Canon Rebel, or perhaps a SONY DSLR… I’m still undecided over what I want, but I know I’ll buy used. Have you seen the price of a new Digital SLR recently? Spending more than $2000 on a new camera just isn’t in my budget right now. Especially when I can get the same specs for half the price and professional photographers are known to keep their equipment in fantastic condition.  I’ll probably be able to purchase the whole kit too (camera body, lenses, memory cards, even a bag to hold it all in) from one seller. Not many retailers offer affordable package prices for camera kits these days (it’s like buying a car, where the seat belt costs extra,) and if they did, the camera itself is usually at the lower end quality-wise.

Another benefit of purchasing electronics on local classified sites is that you can often pick up your item on the same day that you’ve seen the ad online. Instant gratification! And remember that if you keep your electronics in good condition you can list your gear on one of the UsedSites and put the money you make toward an upgrade. All in all, most electronics have a good shelf life, so you can live a in a frugal world and still have great technology to keep you going.

Aeryn Lynne is a creative consultant for PaperSweets, where any and all crafty projects are tackled. Her other day job is to blog and review about her favourite topics: technology, plus-size fashion, and local events, on Habitué (

10 Responses to “Buying Used Tech Gear: It’s Okay Today”

jac - desperaudio @ large

As an audio “revivalist” (I find and rebuild and re-sell vintage stereo gear) I could not agree with you more. From the sellers point of view there is nothing more important than to display your wares honestly and completely. Encourage a potential buyer to do their due diligence every time and, if you don’t have what they’re looking for, help them out by pointing out good deals elsewhere and always give them straight, clean advice to alleviate their concerns.
Not everyone has the wherewithal to drop multi-thousands of dollars on new stereo gear (amps, turntables, speakers, et al) at an audio boutique store – but they likely will at some point in the future. Help them get their feet wet (so to speak), don’t diss or disparage your colleagues who are in the same business and your clients will almost inevitably return for more – be it advice or a purchase – and they’ll tell others about you.
“Used” doesn’t mean “junk”. Not all the time. Not in my house.


    Aeryn Lynne

    “Used” doesn’t mean “junk”.
    Great advice! Most tend to keep their technology in “just like new” shape because it had cost so much in the first place.

    Your insights on selling used tech are invaluable Jac, thanks so much for commenting and sharing your thoughts on the matter! 🙂


I always worry about buying electronics used. However hubby does it all the time and has been very happy! Buying used is great especially if you are trying a product out for a first time, not sure if it is right for you or just wanting to save cash


    Aeryn Lynne

    Agreed! It’s definitely a great way to test out a product to see if it fits your lifestyle. Plus a great way to save funds, especially since personal budgets are tightening more and more these days!

    Thanks Gingermommy!


Interesting. I really am wary of buying used tech because i worry about being tricked! My sons tend to buy and sell all sorts of games and tech stuff though, and usually they are in very good shape. I suppose it is worth considering in the future, I’ll just have to do more research…


    Aeryn Lynne

    Research is definitely key, Heather! If you ever find a used item that you’re wanting to purchase, but are still not 100% sure, ask your sons for their input. Since they’re familiar with both buying and selling, they’ll be able to check if the item is right for you! 🙂


I really want a Cannon Rebel, too, but we just can’t afford it. Maybe buying used would be a good way to do it. Thanks for the tips!


    Aeryn Lynne

    Definitely keep on the look-out for a used Rebel, Sarah; cameras are made with robust technology, and can work for decades for as well as it did the first time it came out of it’s box.

Little Miss Kate

Great tips – I know my dad has bought used camera gear before and been very happy with it. It is also a great way to save on video games.


    Aeryn Lynne

    Thanks Kate! Yes used video games are also an amazing way to get good entertainment while on a budget. A game wouldn’t change/expire regardless of how well loved it was. 🙂

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