In my head I have a huge red light flashing saying 'warning, warning', but I can't actually think why it might be a bad thing to do.
dd1 + 2 would absolutely love a computer. They are 6+7 years old, and really want to write stories and draw pictures.
Personally, I'd love them to be able to use wordshark3 and numbershark 3, and perhaps to have aa typing software or language software on there as well. There is absolutely no way I want them connecting to the internet as the idea is for the computer to live in the (unsupervised) office.
If itt is going to be a stand alone computer is there any reason I can't get a 2nd hand oone?
It is going to need windows 7/xp some sound and cd drive to run wordshark, but I have no idea how many giga-bitbops of anything else I need.
I have sold the odd computer through eBay, to some very nice buyers.
So I would say it's ok (wouldn't I) .Take the usual precautions: check the feedback, use an established seller, see if the seller has taken care with the description and photos - as to my mind if they've bothered to do this, they will have taken care of the item.
If you still hate the thought of it though, ask friends or colleagues... you might be surprised how many people have a spare that they don't use, but can't be bothered to clear and dispose of!
Have bought 5 iMac, 4 small PCs, and 4 laptops in the last year, plus 3 nettop boxes (Acer Revo), all on Ebay, all with software on (some included MS Office and so on, one was Linux), oh and 2 netbooks, just remembered them!
As others have said, check feedback, see that they have the operating system you want (Win 7, Win XP). Check for mentions of missing keys from laptop keyboards, or problems reading/writing CDs DVDs.
Look for a laptop with 1 or 2 GB or RAM, 80/160/more GB or more for the Hard Disk, and then consider whether to plug in a separate keyboard and mouse (simply to protect against keys coming off the laptop, and crumbs or drinks getting in).
Something like > this < (cheaper if poss - search Ebay for "mousemat with hub" too) allows mouse and keyboard to be plugged into hub at back of mousemat, and then 1 cable goes off to the PC/laptop.