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HP offers money for old tech equipment

Recycling program in United States expands recycling program from a trade-in credit system to no-strings checks. Consumers must pay for shipments, though.

Hewlett-Packard has decided to offer people in the United States money in exchange for their old tech equipment, the company announced Tuesday.

The PC maker has had a recycling program for years that lets consumers determine the value of their old tech equipment, then receive a credit for that value toward a new HP or Compaq brand product.

This new recycling program does not require people to buy anything to realize a monetary gain from giving HP their old tech equipment, though they are responsible for postage when mailing in the item. The shipping costs associated with a "Premium Service," in which FedEx picks up the old electronics, are taken out of HP's check to the consumer.

Some green-spring news during this gray winter: an old Dell Inspiron will garner a check of about $60 through HP's expanded recycling program. Candace Lombardi

HP calls its new program the HP Consumer Buyback and Planet Partners Recycling Program. The program offers money in exchange for any brand of PC, monitor, printer, digital camera, or smartphone that HP determines still has some sort of value. It's part of HP's effort to recycle 2 billion pounds of electronic junk by 2010. As of now, the company has recycled more than 1 billion pounds of e-waste.

It's like Antiques Roadshow for techies, only you don't have to go to the fair to find out what your attic junk is worth.

HP has a quote Web site for the buyback program that lets consumers input the specs of their old tech equipment and receive a free instant quote.

In testing out the system, I discovered that HP offers examples from a drop-down menu, but will also accept items that have been modified, and it offers a place to put in the modified configuration and evaluate it. For example, I found that an old Dell Inspiron notebook with a 20GB hard drive, 256 MB of RAM, a Pentium III M 1.0GHz processor, and loaded with Windows XP Professional is worth about $60.

If your tech junk is determined by the online tool to have no value, you're out of luck for financial gain, but if it's an HP or Compaq brand product, you can still opt to mail it to HP for recycling.

I took it one step further and tested out the value of the same old Dell laptop against HP's U.S. trade-in recycling program, which is another option for consumers. On trade-in, the same old Dell Inspiron gets me an $86 credit.

Given this economy, I'd say it's worth your time to look up the value of your electronic junk on HP's site and make that trip to the post office.