Large projection (or tube) TVs use bulbs to project an image. These are expensive and have limited lifespans. There is no way to know when these bulbs will burn out, so rather opt for a plasma or LCD TV when shopping for secondhand – they don’t have repair-prone parts.

DVD players
Standard players that make use of internal lasers are risky and often worthless to buy. The lasers wear out quickly and cost almost the same as a new DVD player to replace. Blu-ray players (which make use of blue-violet laser as opposed to red) are better to buy secondhand as they are expensive new, but look for one younger than six months.

Used cellphones should be bought with caution, as they’re a favourite among thieves. If there’s no warranty, check that the phone has not been blocked electronically. The chemicals in lithium batteries break down over time, giving them a very short lifespan. A new battery costs more than the phone. If possible, check how long the battery lasts before buying it. Check for any external damage as well, paying attention to the antenna, which is often the first piece to break.

Laptops and PCs

PCs and notebooks are almost always not worth their secondhand price. With all the movable parts, such as fans and hard drives, they’re subject to a lot of wear and tear, despite how well they may seem to run. Do not buy a PC older than a year or a laptop older than 3 months – and even then, the discount must be quite substantial.

Cameras and camcorders

Handheld devices are commonly dropped, causing damage to their many of the movable internal parts. If it doesn’t come with a 90-day warranty, it’s not worth buying.

MP3 players

Older MP3 players and iPods use a hard drive for storage. These are costly to replace and, more often than not, the cause for the device being sold. Newer iPods and flash-based MP3 players use memory chips, which are easier and cheaper to replace. Check that the screen is not cracked and the USB port working before buying.

Whatever you’re shopping for, buy from a reputable reseller, buy with a warranty and get all relevant paperwork (ownership and authentication papers). If you’re buying portable, handheld goods with movable (replaceable) parts, make sure these goods are not old or show signs of external damage.