Guest Blog: Reusing Electronics for the greater good
Remember the days when you bought a gadget and it stayed with you for years? Doesn’t seem like so long ago does it?
The life cycle of electronics is getting shorter every year; you might think that devices left behind for newer, shinier gizmos are obsolete. Chances are, it probably isn’t. And by trying to sell it, you’d be doing yourself, the buyer and the environment each a favour. It’s not often you can kill three birds with one stone.
There doesn’t appear to be a definitive number, but some electronics’ recyclers estimate that Canadians dump as much as 300,000 tons of e-waste to landfills every year. Smartphones, computers, iPods, old DVD players, and many other product categories can contain metals and other materials that are harmful to the environment.
This kind of commerce around the iPhone is a clear indication of what I mentioned above regarding life cycles of electronics. A MacBook Air from three years ago may not be good enough for a self-described “power user,” but the average person might find plenty of life still left in it. The same goes for other smartphones, tablets, computers, cameras, headphones, Blu-ray players and flat-panel TVs.
Of these categories, smartphones are probably the device with the highest turnover. The reason why is obvious. New models appear on the market every few months, and over only the last six years, the average length of ownership has plummeted from two to three years down to just 12 months or less. The rate of advancement and sophistication in new models is growing faster than some consumers can manage. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of buyers and sellers on Kijiji looking to make a deal.
It’s a cliché, but one person’s trash is another’s treasure, and that can’t be any truer with electronics. That old turntable set might be useless to you, but not to someone who loves vinyl. A film SLR camera might seem like a relic, but not to a photographer who likes to shoot with them for fun. And an iPod nano from four years ago might seem pointless to sell for $30 – $40, but it’s worth it if it keeps the device out of a landfill and lets a buyer listen to music without breaking the bank.
Even phone and electronic cases and accessories are a good example of how selling for low amounts can still make sense if you have something that is in good condition and not easy to find anymore. Price, scarcity and compatibility — those are pillars of resale.
So, if you are in the market to sell or buy used electronics, what are the Top 3 categories you should look for?
This is a no-brainer based on the sheer number of devices posted on Kijiji. You don’t have to lock into a contract with a carrier if you can buy a good condition phone used and unlocked. And you don’t have to have the latest tablet if a used one that still functions perfectly suits your needs and the cost is reasonable. A phone or tablet, first and foremost, needs to be functional and perform consistently well. There are a lot of those on Kijiji right now.
Here’s an example: The Galaxy Nexus came out in Canada in December last year, and yet, it’s arguably been dethroned as many as three times as a top Android smartphone. Even so, the phone is still very capable and offers great performance and features. The phone can be found in excellent condition for $300 or less on Kijiji.ca. This is a perfect example of a phone that is nowhere near obsolete being sold on Kijiji’s open market for a more affordable price than some other premium handsets.
Speaking of functional, a laptop is usually about productivity, especially if you need them for school or work. But can you trust buying a used laptop? How good is the battery life? Will the thing fry after a month?
All of these are valid questions and ones that require you doing some research. Was there a particular part of the laptop that caused people problems? Do a search online and find out. The buyer should also be forthcoming on what he or she did with it and why they’re selling it. Specs can be a confusing mess of numbers, so recruit a tech-savvy friend to help translate them in real terms.
This is a broader category because of what it includes. Anything from flat-panel TVs to media players, Blu-ray or Harmony One universal remotes apply. The thing about TVs is that consumers with money and space are looking to go bigger, leaving smaller sizes ready to go on Kijiji for great deals. And by smaller, these could be 42-inch sets that are perfect for small living spaces or bedrooms.
The same goes for the products that support a TV environment. Media players are great for playing content you have or stuff you stream from online. Apple TV, Boxee Box, Asus O!Play, Roku XS — look for these on Kijiji. Some of the products in this category could be as much as three years old, but can be kept up to date with firmware updates, so keep that in mind when looking for something in this category.
Bio: Ted Kritsonis is a respected reporter, editor and TV personality who covers the high-tech industry and specializes in consumer electronics, gadgets, video games, industry trends and Internet and online developments. He is based in Toronto.