Im thinking of getting an Apple II and would love to hear what you have to say when looking for one. Things to consider before buying. Doesn't need to be an early model just as along as its an Apple II.
Also the price, how much are you willing to pay.
Have you looked at any of the Selling Prices on eBay for Apple ][s'????
The Older it is, the more it is, with extra $$$ for the Non-Vented Case or the Leatherette Carrying Bag, especially the Bag WITHOUT the Apple with the Bite in it..
I don't know that there is a bad model. The ][+ is a bit limited but is super cool for a serious collector (and ever see the show Lost?). IIe is almost certainly the best way to start though. The platinum and enhanced are great ways to go and if you're comfortable with swapping chips, turning an original IIe into an enhanced is pretty easy and relatively inexpensive. IIc is also super fun and has the 128k RAM and serial card built right in but just be aware everything is hard wired (no card slots unless you count the RAM upgrade slot that only later models have)
Other than that, I would at least test BASIC if I was buying one (and if it's enhanced, it can run it's own self test if you hold down both the open and closed apple buttons when resetting). That would show you the keyboard is working well and gives you an idea that the board is generally working. Testing disk drives can be a little more tough especially if you don't have a disk. If that's the case, at least make sure the thing spins up.
Price can depend on how patient you are and where you live. It seems to be getting tough to find them for under $100 where I'm at. I picked one up for $70 recently (w/monitor and two drives) but it wasn't booting properly and needed a lot of work (eventually narrowed it down to bad RAM), but I think $125 for a complete system with some software would be a decent price. I wouldn't go $200 unless it came with some amazing stuff (maybe peek at what cards are in it. Sometimes that will double the value).
And for the love of god stay away from anything on eBay that's "untested" (code for broken). Or just stay away from eBay in general when possible.
Consider that the original II and the II Plus models are the most unreliable Apple II models because of the 100+ ICs that are all socketed, as well as the 2-part keyboard assembly too.
If you want a machine that just works I would recommend an Apple IIc, a platinum Apple IIe or an Apple IIgs.
Unless you don't mind having to do periodic repair and troubleshooting.... along with the risk of making a problem worse by breaking something (this often happens to me).
From my personal experience:
- original Apple II and II Plus: both have needed considerable repair work
- unenhanced Apple IIe (old one with painted case): has needed minor repair work
- Apple IIc, platinum Apple IIe, two Apple IIgs models: no repair work needed (yet)
I have owned the 2 Apple IIgs models for over 10 years. Very reliable machines.