Excalibur Online

Broken Screen

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Would you buy a laptop with a cracked screen? Well, I saw one go for $638 ($580 US) on eBay recently. It seems like a lot to pay for a broken computer doesn't it? Especially since the warranty doesn't cover screen damage. Even though it was a very nice shiny Apple G4 Powerbook that sells for $1,649 at a local Toronto Apple dealer, it would be natural for you to ask, "What's the point?"

It seemed as if it was in mint condition, with the exception of the screen, which the seller claimed was broken by his thumbs when he lifted the laptop by its screen one day. Let that be a lesson to you all: Never lift up a laptop by the screen.

So why did he get 22 bids? Why did he get any money at all for it?

Well, you have to think outside of the box for the answer. The point is that you shouldn't compare this laptop to other laptops; the screen is gone and will cost a fortune to replace. What you should do is compare it to the cost of a desktop PC. After all, you can think of a desktop PC as a big laptop with no screen. So, if you close the lid of the laptop with the broken screen, and never open it again, it is a nice little desktop PC you can attach to an external monitor, keyboard and mouse just as you can with any other desktop PC.

So I checked out the used section of the CPU's website and found a used G4 933MHz, 512MB, 60GB Powermac that most closely matched the specifications of the broken Powerbook. The hard drive was the same size; it had the same amount of RAM and also had a G4 processor, just like the laptop. However, the broken Powerbook, being newer, ran at a much faster 1.33 GHz compared to the 933MHz of the desktop. Plus, of course, the older desktop was significantly larger than the laptop.

You could tuck away the laptop almost anywhere-behind the monitor or under a pile of papers. As for the desktop Powermac, you're going to have to make some space.

The price? $899! For a lot less money, you get a faster computer that takes up less space and just plain looks nicer. That's what you get for thinking outside of the box.

Of course, if you don't want to get a Mac, the same logic applies to Windows PCs. Instead of buying a great, big, loud, expensive PC from Dell, check out eBay for a fast Windows laptop with a broken screen. I found a 3GHz Compaq Presario for $507.52 ($460 US). It even has a DVD drive and an output you can attach to your TV.

Imagine this sliver of a PC on top of your TV becoming your new entertainment centre. In less space than a Future Shop DVD player would take, you've got a top-of-the-line, progressive-scan DVD player, web browser and e-mail client all on your TV without your significant other getting upset with a great, big, beige box sitting in the living room. You can even download and watch TV shows and movies. Try that with even an expensive DVD player.

So can you use this trick for other devices? Well yes, actually. For example, if you buy any MP3 player with a broken screen, you have yourself an IPod shuffle. Why? Because the Shuffle has no screen to begin with anyway. Just set your broken MP3 player to random and go.

In the end, just be happy that the cash you saved is in your pocket, instead of Apple CEO Steve Jobs's.

Excalibur Naked Tech