After getting a laptop from eBay (mentioned in an earlier post) I decided to beef it up a little. Found some fancy USB2 DVD-RW device sold by a relatively high rated seller. Something like 97.5% positives. The price was acceptable too - 80 bucks including delivery. OEM packaging, no software, nothing. Pretty good deal overall.
When a few days later the item arrived it turned out to be a broken thing. I guess that's what people call DOA, or dead on arrival. No external damage, the packaging was ok. The device did not work. I tried connecting it to 4 different machines, including a company HP server, none of which could find the device. The server however showed up some error message about a problem with a usb access to the device.
While I was struggling to get my money back (read some advices on my eBay page ) i decided to shop around and found an awesome deal at a nearby Staples. They were selling a Sony USB2 DVD-RW thing in a retail packaging, with a power supply (cool!) and a Nero DVD-making software, all for $98. Whoa, that was a cool deal - for an extra $18 you get an extra 5v power supply that you can use to power up other things like a cd player or a walkman plus you get a licensed copy of Nero. So I got it. It runs great.
Now I'm looking for some memory for the same laptop (it uses DDR333 pc2700) and i already spotted some good deals at compusa for almost the same money as eBay people sell it for. The difference is like a dollar or two.
So I think that shopping on ebay for some relatively inexpensive hardware doesn't justify other hassles anymore. At least for me.