Black Friday? Who needs it? Best Buy has slashed prices by as much as $200 on some models of third-generation iPads. But if you’d rather buy a Windows laptop, this is also a great time to shop, with prices on even robust configurations rapidly sliding, particularly if you opt for a Windows 7 PC.
Although the price cuts on the Apple and Windows products are happening right now, they’re not happening for the same reason. The iPad continues to sell very strongly, but now that the fourth generation tablet has been out for months, Best Buy and MacMall figure to clear out some old inventory by discounting prices on the perfectly capable third-generation iPad.
But the story in the Windows world is quite different. Windows 8 is getting a cold shoulder from reviewers and many users, and a number of market research firms say that sales of Windows 8 PCs are very slow. Even companies that make Windows 8 PCs, such as Dell, are admitting that sales are crummy and pointing the finger at Microsoft’s newest operating system.
The sweetest deal I found was a 64GB third-generation iPad equipped with both Wi-Fi and Cellular that was retailing for $770; as of this week Best Buy is selling it for $545.99, a savings of $234. Versions that run on either AT&T’s network or Verizon’s are available.
A 32GB version, also with Wi-Fi and cellular dropped from $670 to $475.99, a savings of $204. And the cheapest model on sale is a 16GB iPad with only Wi-Fi that sells for $405.99, $174 less than it’s old price of $570.
As I’ve noted before, some Best Buy items can be frustratingly hard to find. You’ll go the Web site and it will say not available for shipping and when you check a local store it will be unavailable. However, I’ve found that the Web site isn’t always up to date so it’s worth checking with a Best Buy store near you to see when the item will be available.
There are so many brands and configurations of Windows laptops it’s hard to point to one bargain in particular. Louis Ramirez, a senior writer for DealNews.com, follows laptop prices closely and says that even well-equipped PCs have been getting cheaper for months. Laptops with 15-inch screens, 4GB of memory and a third-generation Intel core CPU that sold for $550 in June had dropped to $420 in February.
That might be a better deal than you’ll find on any given day, but you’ll find good prices at the Microsoft Store, Dell’s Web site and Best Buy, says Ramirez. The cheapest PCs are ones that come with Windows 7, and for my money that’s not a bad way to go. Windows 8, as you’ve probably heard more than once, is, to put it kindly, problematic for many users. If you do want a Windows 8 machine you would do well to spend more money and buy one with a touchscreen. Without it, Windows 8 is altogether a non-starter.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.