Call Me Skeptical


But I didn’t know it was this simple! All I had to do was ask a friend for their PowerBook and I could’ve gotten one for free. Or not. Does anyone know somebody like this? I’m getting ahead of myself.

In case you haven’t clicked the link and read the blog post at WiseBread, here’s the idea:
If you’re looking for a new computer or some higher-end items, the claim is that while all your friends are updating their technology to the latest/greatest, all you need to do is ask and they’ll give you their old gear.

The point about old cell phones holds the most potential in my opinion. But while I’m a giving person and all, and unless I’m wrong, Apple hardware generally retains its value pretty well. Last time I gave a friend a $700-$1000 gift was….never. Guess I’m just a cheap friend – let that be a warning to all of you.

So am I wrong here, or is it really as simple as asking your friends for their old tech? What’s your experience been?



I’ve been able to cheaply buy electronics (old, but not outdated, laptops, software, et cetera) from friends when they updated their gear.

Stephen Paul

Two of the three computers in my house are handmedowns – a Mirrored Drive Door PowerMac G4 and a Quicksilver PowerMac G4. I was offered another Quicksilver and ended up passing that one down to a computerless friend who gets great use out of it. Really, there is nothing wrong with a machine that’s been in a few hands before. My Mirrored Drive Door PowerMac is worth ~$1,000 with all of the extra RAM and stuff that its previous owner put in.

But, as Michael Moncur said, asking for something like that from any amount of people is just plain tacky.


I would normally sell it if it’s worth the price, but pretty cheaply. My boss got my old iMac G4 for $500 with a lot thrown in.

Otherwise I’d give it away if I knew the other person would really appreciate it (like my old iPods) and if they wouldn’t mind doing the same for someone else someday. I call it spreading around karma.

I agree: eBay really is a hassle for some electronic items: if something goes wrong, you’ll never hear the end of it, so it’s better most of the time to let someone have it freely.

The only old Mac I ever kept was my PowerBook G3. it’s definitely seen better days, but it still boots in OS9, and once in a blue moon that’s still mighty handy. Plus it takes almost no room.


It’s good to give. What is little known is that you gain back more by giving something away than by selling it.


I would never ask for anything along these lines but I have given away a few items over the years. The whole Ebay/classified route is just a hassle.

My neighbor just received a free Mac that was no longer used by my family – a G4 tower with plenty of RAM but no display. They are good people with two Mac-loving kids. Why not?


I gave my brother my aging Powerbook G4 when I bought a new one, 2+ years ago. It had only 20GB HD, 512 Mb Ram – but it was 3+ years old and still doing well. At that time, he was still living off a Pc box and not too impressed with Apple products – but soon broke the habit. He used my old Powerbook for iTunes and then bought his iPod, and felt happy enough with all this so he bought himself a 20 inch Core Duo iMac a few months ago. He’s now better equipped than I am and a happy Mac user. Perfect.


My first computer, not that long ago, was a hand-me-down G3 Powerbook. I didn’t ask for it, but it was from one of those people who kept saying “You need a computer. You need a computer.” When one was promised to me, I kept my mouth shut, being somewhat ambivalent about it. It did finally show up a year or two later. It lasted a year or so before the hard drive bit the dust, and while I am still not certain that I “need” a computer, I had to buy a new Mac just before they went to the Intel chips. Couldn’t wait a few more weeks. Hooked. rb

Dan LaMee

My only experience with this has been with my old iBook, although I’m sure I’ll run into it again with my current PowerBook sometime in the future. I wound up selling my 3-ish year old iBook to a friend for $500.

On the other hand, I’m probably going to give away a wireless router at some point because I just don’t need it and because it doesn’t really have that much monetary value to most people (it’s a 802.11B router).

Matt Linder

I’ve been known to hand down old gear. Never a Mac though. I have taken someone’s old iMac and parted it out to repair mine and give that away. I also passed on my vintage iPod.


Neven Mrgan

What the…

I gave my perfectly operational iPod to my girlfriend. Also, how much could you sell the item for (under $100 is probably the giving range, though this may depend on your wealth).

And if you want to give away gadgets and stay somewhat cynical, remember this quote (from Steven Pinker, I believe): before refrigeration, the best place to store food was inside a friend’s stomach.

Michael Moncur

I just gave away an ibook G4 to a friend, and it’s not the first. I actively look for people to take my old gadgets when I replace them.

I think it’s a bit tacky to actually call up all of your friends – or worse, email 65 people – and beg for a gadget, though.

Neven Mrgan

(hm, my comment got cut off)

I think the key issue is, how good a friend are we talking (I gave my perfectly operational iPod to my girlfriend) and how much could you sell the item for (

Neven Mrgan

It all depends on the friends you have, and how good a friend you are to them.

My girlfriend gave her G3 iBook to a friend because we have three better computer between ourselves now. No one was using it, it would have sold for peanuts, and the friend needed a computer.

I have my Canon PowerShot A60 to a friend when I upgraded to an SD630 a few weeks ago. Again, I couldn’t have sold it for much, and he needed a camera.

I think the key issue is, how good a friend are we talking (I gave my perfectly operational iPod to my girlfriend) and how much could you sell the item for (


I never have but nobody has ever asked. I probably would simply because if I’m getting new I have no use for the old and I more than likely feel I’ve received my moneys worth and it no longer holds value to me. Yeah, I could sell it but I have a lot better things to do then to hassle with the potential nightmare of Ebay of even selling it to a friend.

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