Ship or sell my computer from Japan?
August 18, 2009 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Is it worth it to ship 2-3 year-old computer components from Japan?

In a couple of months, I'll be moving back to San Francisco from Japan. Here I've bought a computer, printer, and monitor (and accessories) that I've been using for the past few years. The printer is a three-year-old heavy and fragile HP copy-scan thing. The monitor is a two year-old but really nice 23 inch LG, and the CPU was used when I bought it a year ago but heavy desktop. Audio is very heavy but sounds great Creative set. I am wondering if it is worth it to try to pack and ship these things back home, or just sell them for cheap and get new versions when I get back to the states. Since I don't have any of the original boxes, packaging would be less than optimal, so I think there would be a chance for damage, especially if I choose the cheapest, slowest freight. Or would it be possible to pack this stuff in luggage? If anyone has a similar experience of shipping similar old items across the ocean like this, I'd be most appreciative of hearing your opinions.
posted by greasepig to Travel & Transportation around Japan (12 answers total)
Realistically, you have probably another year or two at most for the useful life of those products. As a tech-head, I would happily use this as an excuse to upgrade.
posted by anti social order at 8:33 AM on August 18, 2009

If it were me (I build my own PCs), I'd probably try to pack the monitor, and maybe also pull out the motherboard along with the CPU and memory, and also the hard disk, and pack all those. The case is likely to be 90% empty space, and you can pick up a new one (with power supply) for $30 or so.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:42 AM on August 18, 2009

That's a nice monitor. You might be able to score a TV or monitor box (with the styrofoam sandwich securers) from an electronics store there that you can wedge it into. I wouldn't bother at all with the printer. I suppose shipping anything would be dependent on if you're also shipping other items. Are you already leasing space in a shipping container for large items like furniture or were you going to take your stuff on your flight?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:52 AM on August 18, 2009

Take the hard drives out and take them with you for the data and the security of knowing you didn't leave the data behind. Everything else is replaceable with components of a similar age for practically nothing -- 2-3 year old computer bits do not have much value. Of course, if you end up buying things new, it'll cost more, but even there, a new computer is just not that expensive if you're not buying the latest and greatest.

The only exception is if you're already shipping a great deal of other stuff, in which case throwing in the nice monitor is probably not a big deal.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:04 AM on August 18, 2009

Bottom line really is time and cost. A new 23" LG widescreen is around $250. How much time is the savings of shipping versus buying new worth to you in hauling it and anything else to a shipping drop location?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 AM on August 18, 2009

Keep in mind postal employees pretty much throw the boxes around. You might find that once it arrives at the destination, it doesn't work anymore. I had that happen before and recently, despite being in the original packaging, and apparently it's not uncommon.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 10:04 AM on August 18, 2009

Keep in mind postal employees pretty much throw the boxes around.

That's a variable that you just have to pack securely against. They're going to mistreat stuff you order online, loading dock workers will toss around stuff fresh off the truck, etc.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:13 AM on August 18, 2009

Do you have money to cover any import duties that may apply? If not, it might be time to sell the equipment off and buy new stuff once you're back.
posted by pwnguin at 1:55 PM on August 18, 2009

I'd vote no (and I once stupidly shipped a PC from the UK to Australia...)
posted by pompomtom at 4:51 PM on August 18, 2009

I had a nice home-built computer in the US that I had put together about two years before recently moving to Japan. I waffled a while, and just eventually decided to sell it to my previous boss (for about a third of what I paid for it, but better than nothing) with the hard drive out.

Shipping ended up feeling like too much of a hassle. But I know there are cheaper options Japan->US than US->Japan.
posted by that girl at 5:20 PM on August 18, 2009

One thing to keep in mind if you plan on getting rid of the components before you leave Japan is the recycling/disposal cost. The cost will vary but generally runs between 3500-4000 yen for a computer (laptop or desktop) or monitor (LCD; CRTs are more).

You can ship anything up to 30kg by seamail for about 12000 yen to the US. The downside is that it takes 1-2 months, however.
posted by armage at 8:01 PM on August 18, 2009

As someone who has relocated a family from Japan to Canada, all I can say is: don't do it. Everything is so much cheaper in North America, and things you seem to be attached to before your move you aren't really attached to. We shipped our computer back to Canada, and three months later I ended up buying a new one.

Perhaps bring back the hard drive and that's it.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:04 PM on August 21, 2009

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