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"Is buying a refurbished product a good idea?" a friend asks. She's considering this route for an iPad. It depends on what you want and who is doing the refurbishing, but in her case the answer is yes.

According to Rick Broida, a technology writer and author, there is no reason to choose anything but refurbished when it comes to Apple. In a recent post on tech site CNET.com, Mr. Broida adds that he thinks most of Apple's hardware is overpriced, and sees it as a chance to purchase the products for less. In some cases, hundreds of dollars less.

When I informally poll some of my Mac-loving friends I discover three out of six are using refurbished products, each seeing savings from $200 to $300, without any problems.

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Some might opt for brand new, because they're concerned about lack of support if something goes wrong, but purchasing through Apple's refurbished and clearance site provides you with the same one-year warranty the company applies to new products, and you still have the option of purchasing extended coverage.

Plus, products are guaranteed to be up to the quality standards of new products.

My last few Apple purchases were new items ordered online or bought in-store. I've never thought much about purchasing refurbished products until now.

It makes sense, though, to start searches with the refurbished models found on Apple's site.

In the end, my friend found her iPad 2 there for $349, instead of $499. There may be some tiny scuffs, the packaging won't be original, and she'll be settling for a slightly older model, but it's a small trade for potential savings.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group. Read her weekly column on managing debt and saving money at the Globe's personal finance site.

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About the Author
Angela Self

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies, a group of five women who specialize in personal finance. They are hosts of a self-titled show on the W Network and the authors of The Smart Cookies' Guide to Making More Dough. More

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