When it comes time for a business to upgrade its fleet of tablets, notebooks, laptop or desktop computers, options include renting, leasing or buying, and buying new or refurbished devices.
Generally renting is for short term only – months, not years. Some examples are for trade shows, special limited time projects or temporary employees.
Purchasing hardware gives a small business the power to define the length of the hardware cycle and sell the product for recovery of the initial cost at the end of the cycle. Companies also need to examine the financial impact – buying creates capital assets that can be depreciated while leasing is treated as a monthly business expense.
Buying hardware, however, has the downside of a large initial purchase. It’s a challenge to determine when to retire hardware that is owned after it is out of warranty. Employees often desire the newest devices and a business owner may be more reluctant to replace equipment the company owns free and clear.
Leasing may be more favorable. Leasing offers monthly payments with the tradeoff of not having hardware to sell at the end of the contract. There are often additional fees charged if leased equipment is not returned by the lease end date. At a certain point, all personal computer devices need to be replaced or a company may run the risk of down time from hardware failure, or disgruntled employees who want newer devices.
One of the main concerns with purchasing new personal computing hardware is that its value decreases after it has been purchased – not unlike driving a new car out of a showroom. Although new hardware comes with the advantage of being cutting edge and having the ability to be highly customizable when ordered; refurbished hardware can be a better value than buying new due to the low cost of acquisition, even if the new equipment is held for its life cycle.
When it comes to overall value, buying refurbished can be the best option.
The initial investment can be significantly lower than buying new. A small business may feel freer to choose a shorter hardware cycle – replacing devices more frequently to keep up to date without worrying as much about the initial investment.
Some see buying refurbished as the best of leasing and purchasing new hardware. Swapping equipment more often on a shorter interval decreases the amount of risk due to hardware failure. This is insurance to prevent failing equipment and employee down time when waiting for repairs/replacements. It also may keep employees happier because they get an upgraded device more frequently.
Computers have matured to a point where having the very newest equipment is not necessary to run most standard office applications. Purchasing refurbished equipment that is appropriate for your work environment is likely to have no adverse effects on productivity. With technologies such as visualization, a fleet of older computers can be supported as terminals to a centralized server with virtual machines running on them. This decision should be made on a case-by-case based on applications required for a small business.
What business people worry about most when buying refurbished equipment is warranty – or lack of it. To reduce the risk, buying from an experienced re-marketer with a good reputation is key. Often a limited warranty is offered on refurbished equipment (three months versus typically one year on new equipment). It is recommended to determine what the specific warranty is on used equipment before purchase.
The Choice is Yours
Refurbished equipment can be found on eBay, Amazon, from OEMs and from companies who are experienced remarketers. Websites such as Play It Again PCs (www.piapc.com) provide quality refurbished equipment in a wide range of prices, brands, and quantities. Whether your small business has an expiring lease on a fleet of PC devices or has aging purchased hardware, buying refurbished equipment may provide the best return on investment without reducing productivity. Have you considered purchasing refurbished for your fleet?