It really is better in every meaningful way.
Most people are aware that PC and laptop manufacturers will produce several product lines, aimed at different demographics. A great example is Dell, who produces three primary lines of machines. The Latitude line of laptops and Optiplex line of desktops are aimed at large businesses with significant IT budgets and are typically sold directly. The Inspiron line is aimed squarely at consumers and typically sell through regular retail channels. The Vostro line is somewhat in the middle and provides some of the serviceability features of the Latitude and Optiplex units while being priced similarly to the Inspiron line in an attempt to capture the small business market. What’s different, though?
First come research and development. More time is spent designing and testing business class units, sometimes to the point that a new business line will spend more time in development than an equivalent consumer unit will last from development to end of life. Every effort is made to ensure reliability and serviceability and no corners are cut to ensure a solid product makes it to market. Consumer units, largely, are developed separately and because cost vs. profit margin (which is split by the retail and manufacturer) are the driving factors during production much less time is spent on reliability testing.
Next come the actual quality of parts. For the business lines, everything from the design of the hinges on notebooks to the plastic used in the keyboard to the individual components used in the production of the system boards is considered, measured and tested. As a result the finished product is better built and constructed of higher quality parts. LCD screens, system fans, keyboards, palmrests, hard drives – all are usually of higher quality than what is found on the shelf at a big-box retailer.
Service life is a consideration. At Discount Electronics, we offer a one-year warranty on every computer and laptop we sell. That wouldn’t be a great idea if we sold strictly consumer items but because we deal primarily in business-class units we can offer our customers peace of mind even on refurbished units. While many systems we sell are very recent, some can be older models and the fact that it makes good sense to offer a full one-year parts and labor warranty on them demonstrates just how reliable they can be. Also, if something does happen to go wrong the availability and pricing of replacement parts for business-class units is typically better and less expensive than any consumer model.
Operating system options can vary as well. Consumer systems are typically sold loaded with Home, Home Premium, Starter or Basic editions of Microsoft operating systems. Business units usually offer the option of Professional versions. Many vendors now offer Linux as an option as well. Never mind an enterprise-class deployment, even for someone networking a small office or creating a workgroup at home this can be a huge benefit.
Business units usually offer a variety of docking or expansion options as well. The Dell E-series line is entirely compatible with the E-series line of docks which allow for a laptop or notebook to used just like a desktop computer when docked. The user doesn’t even have to unplug the AC adapter, keyboard, mouse or monitor and in fact doesn’t even need to open the laptop. Just dock it and turn it on with the button on the dock. Many models will also support multiple monitor outputs. Consumer units can benefit from USB or Express-card based expansion solutions but nothing beats a well-designed and properly implemented docking solution.
There are a great many reasons to seek out well-priced refurbished alternatives to brand-new consumer equipment, this is by no means a complete list. It certainly makes the prospect more appealling, however. Consider all of the advantages and features listed in this post and then consider that refurbished business-class hardware can sell for literally pennies on the dollar vs it’s original new price with no loss in performance or reliability and you have a very attractive proposition to consider.