Laptops have become ubiquitous in modern society. Almost everyone has one, and they spend hours pounding on the keys whether working, playing, or simply chatting with friends and family. Regardless of how a person normally uses their laptop, the keyboard is almost always one of the most heavily used components. People pound on them, spill drinks in them, get dust and crumbs in them; they use their laptop keyboards so much, it is a wonder they last as long as they do. Unfortunately, even the best laptop keyboards have a breaking point. As with anything that comes with moving parts, laptop keyboards eventually wear out, and the more heavily they are used, the more quickly they wear out. This is not a design flaw, it simply reflects the fact that anything with moving parts eventually needs replacing. Luckily, one of the best places to find replacement laptop keyboards is eBay.
Keyboard Replacement Basics
Replacing a laptop keyboard is one of those tasks that may not be intuitively obvious, but can be done by anyone with a modicum of patience and the ability to follow instructions to the letter. It does require some manual dexterity as well, but anyone who knows how to type should have enough of that to replace a laptop keyboard without much difficulty. A little Internet research can often provide specific instructions for removing and replacing the keyboard on almost any laptop, as well as more general instructions suitable for the vast majority of laptops.
Remove the Old Keyboard
Before anyone can install a replacement keyboard, it is necessary to remove the old keyboard, as otherwise there would be nowhere to put the replacement. The first thing to do before removing the keyboard is to make sure there is no power to the system. For a laptop this means not only should it be unplugged from the mains, but also that the battery needs to be removed and taken out before any work begins. Disconnecting power is the single most important step to take before working on any laptop.
Once the power has been disconnected, the next step is to gain access to the keyboard connector, which is usually done by removing the strip just below the screen. This needs to be done very carefully, as does the entire procedure, so as to ensure that nothing is damaged in the removal. Once the buyer has access to the keyboard, it should be removed gently, and then disconnected from its controller cable. These cables do not always have a lot of play, so it is important to be careful not to damage them.
Reasons for Buying Used Laptop Keyboards
There are several reasons to buy used laptop keyboards to replace existing ones, rather than new. One basic reason is that not all manufacturers sell replacement keyboards. If the keyboards are not available new, then the only option is to purchase used. Another common reason is price. Factory replacement parts for laptops, when available, are often very expensive. Many people simply do not want to spend a great deal of money replacing a keyboard on an existing laptop, so they look for used ones to ensure that the procedure is economically viable.
General Rules for Buying Used
Regardless of what one is buying, there are some general rules that should always be taken into consideration when making a used purchase. The first thing everyone should remember is that every used item is unique, no two are identical, unlike new purchases. Someone buying a new item can expect that any one is much the same as another, however every used item comes with its own history, and that makes no two the same. The key to buying used is researching the particular, not simply the general. Wise buyers not only research the model of keyboard they require, but also each specific example they are considering, so that they know exactly what they are buying.
Specific Things to Watch out for When Buying Used Laptop Keyboards on eBay
In addition to the general points to consider when making any used purchase, there are certain specific things that should be considered when looking to buy a used laptop keyboard on eBay. Perhaps the most important are the three C's of Compatibility, Condition, and Cost. Luckily, eBay makes it easy to factor in all three qualities.
Used Keyboard Compatibility
It is important to remember that the name on the outside of a laptop does not necessarily indicate the company that made it. Most laptop companies outsource their production to a small number of other companies, and many split production between more than one of these companies. This means that only the keyboard for that exact model of laptop can be guaranteed to fit. What appears to be a closely related model from the description, or even the designation, may be a totally different device on the interior and share almost no parts in common.
Used Keyboard Condition
The other thing to consider is the condition of the specific used keyboard that one is planning to buy. Some keyboards may come with controller cables and others without. Some may be sold only for parts in case a person wants to replace just the keycaps, and not the whole keyboard. A close examination of the eBay listing provides the information necessary to make an informed decision regarding the keyboard condition, and whether it meets the buyer's requirements.
Used Keyboard Cost
Some keyboards are more readily available than others. It can depend on everything from the popularity of the laptop in question, to its desirability and even durability. The end result is that prices for used keyboards, as with everything else, are intrinsically variable. Some are readily available at low prices, while others are more expensive. The key when buying a used keyboard is making sure that the cost of replacing the keyboard on an existing laptop is notably lower than that of simply replacing the laptop. It all comes down to comparing costs to benefits.
The following table provides a quick reminder and checklist of the three C's:
Only the keyboard for a specific model is guaranteed to fit
Used keyboards are available in a variety of conditions
Ensure the cost is lower than replacing the laptop would be
Only by taking the time to ensure that all of these factors are considered can buyers be sure they are buying the right used keyboard for their laptop. One major reason for repairing anything is to save money, and buying the wrong part does exactly the opposite.
Installing the New Keyboard
Once the replacement keyboard arrives, the next thing to do is to install it. Just as with removing the old keyboard, this needs to be done carefully and with the power disconnected. In most cases, this should be done immediately after removing the original keyboard so as to ensure that none of the screws are lost. Once the new keyboard is connected, then all the buyer has to do is carefully put everything back in place, tighten it down, reconnect the power and reboot the laptop.
Buying a Used Laptop Keyboard on eBay
eBay is an excellent place to buy a used laptop keyboard, as there is a huge variety for every budget option. No matter what you need, eBay is the place to look. All you need to do is put your exact laptop model in the search box, there is one on every page, and watch as the results come up. Once you have your results on screen you can use the filters in the sidebar to narrow them down to just the ones that meet your requirements. You can also use them to eliminate keyboards for related models, filter out new keyboards, and those which are being sold for parts. You can even control the price range that is displayed. Then, once you are certain they all meet your needs, you can use the sort function to ensure that the ones that provide the best fit are at the top of the list.
After you have narrowed down your list of used keyboards, the next step is to determine which of eBay's many reputable sellers you wish to do business with. The place to do that is their profile page, where you can see everything from their location to their feedback rating. Some sellers offer bundles such as keyboards and tools, while others may allow local purchasers to pick their keyboard up in person.
While there are things to watch out for when buying a used laptop keyboard on eBay, it is actually both easy and rewarding. The key is to take the necessary time and to be sure to do the due diligence to make certain that one finds the right keyboard for the laptop in question. Changing the keyboard is an easy task for anyone with sufficient manual dexterity to type, so long as they take their time and do not damage any of the circuits. The three things that are most important to determine before buying a used laptop keyboard are the compatibility with the laptop in question, the condition of the used laptop keyboard, and the cost of replacing the keyboard as opposed to replacing the entire laptop. For anyone willing to take the time and put in a little mental effort, replacing a laptop keyboard is both easy and rewarding.