I'll come straight out and say it: nothing beats a used laptop / notebook / netbook. Nothing. Why is that? Because there's a track record - good, bad, or ugly - and you can use that to your advantage. By track record, I mean the usual Amazon and eBay and Epinion reviews, and you can do a little DD and see what others have to say about your intended purchase. That's worth more than its weight in gold.
There's another informal, albeit incredibly powerful tool at your disposal. Now .. this tool will not find you any good or great laptop or notebook or netbook, but it'll tell you which ones to ABSOLUTELY AVOID - I mean ... run for cover, run for your life! If you're thinking about a certain make or model of a laptop (or notebook, or netbook), go to YouTube - type in the make and model of your target laptop, followed by the word "repair". For example, if you're thinking about a HP DV6000, then you go to YouTube and type in "HP DV6000 repair". If the results are full of DIY (Do it Yourself) repair videos involving the use of hair-dryers or heat guns, you run for your life and ne'er look back: chances are the ones you'll be bidding for will have a blow-job (or a couple of blow-jobs) in it already, so why would you wanna screw with that?
Lemme say this: a hair-dryer or a heat gun may be good enough to allow a seller to put a computer up for sale (by using heat to move a couple of molecules around), but it ain't good enough to withstand the test of time, and for sure it ain't good enough to overcome a bad design. That's my golden rule: don't F with a bad design! You ain't gonna fix a birth defect by giving it a blow-job, or a thousand blow-jobs.
I know a great many number of people who buy these defective laptops dead, take it apart, give it a blow-job, slap it back together, and put it up for sale on ... where else? - for $200, $300 per pop. You buy one, and ... it's your problem a month, two months down the road. Are you gonna give it a blow-job and pass it off to someone else? That just ain't right. And God Sees Everything.
So ... remember! Don't be lazy. Do a little YouTube DD or homework. If there's a page full of repair videos on YouTube telling you how to repair something with a hair dryer or a heat gun, the problem is guaranteed to be widespread and epidemic, and you oughtn't fall for one - no matter how cute or appetizing it is. If there are no YouTube DIY repair videos involving hair dryers or heat guns, that's a good thing, and you're ahead of the game already.
You heard it here first. And I thought we have lemon laws on our books!