It is definitely possible to find an inexpensive, but useful laptop for under $100: and no, you don’t have to go to yard sales to find them. If you are willing to learn how to evaluate the products you are looking at you can succeed in finding a product satisfactory to you. You must accept, of course, that even top refurbished laptops under $100. are going to be priced that low for a reason. The trick is to find a deal where the compromises are ones you can find acceptable.
Definition of terms varies.
A refurbished computer is a computer that has been returned for some reason. It does not necessarily mean it has been altered in any way. You will want to know if it was and the seller should be able to give you specific, and complete details. One well known online marketplace has laptops listed at one price for used and another for refurbished. Since the refurbished ones are slightly more expensive it seems reasonable to assume they have actually been reworked. You may see laptops marketed as reworked, reconditioned or by some similar term. Just be sure the seller explains clearly what is meant by any term used.
Good gaming laptops aren’t likely to be available at this price.
If you are looking for a basic portable computer for under $100 and want to use it for web browsing, word processing or similar simple activities you have a good chance of success. You will need to spend more if you want to play top of the line games. The graphics needed to do so raise the selling price considerably. If you are feeling lucky checkout Geeks.com anyways where you might find some viable options for extremely old school gaming.
Is it an outdated model or poorly made in the first place?
Very inexpensive laptops can be priced so low for a reason. These reasons tend to fall into one of two categories. Some are inexpensive because they use older technology and various features may be outdated. This isn’t necessarily an issue if you are just looking for something to perform basic tasks. The other reason for low prices is that the model may have been made of inexpensive materials and even poorly constructed. Even this may not be a deal killer if you only need the lap top for a limited time, as might be the case for a student.
Here’s a few models that have been available under $100.
The Apple iBook 12.1″ M9164LL/A laptop and Dell Latitude Notebook models D520 and D610 are each used or refurbished notebooks currently available for under $100. Just to be clear, these models aren’t being recommended: their mention is simply to demonstrate that laptops can be purchased for under $100.
Some final advice: be sure of what you are buying. Never buy anything “as seen” it means you won’t get your money back if it fails. Make sure you have the seller explain in detail the features of your product and what has been done to it. Get documentation of the pertinent information and save it for future reference.