Admit it. You’ve been reading about the cornucopia of gadgets and devices on display at this year’s CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and you — and your credit card — are simply trembling in anticipation.
But don’t let a case of gadget lust dull your bargain-hunter’s instincts. A little patience can be a virtue when shopping for digital goodies, so instead of plunging into the stores and Web marts immediately — take a deep breath. Here, with a little help from our friends at dealnews.com, are some suggestions about timing your hunt for the best deals on CES-related products.
Laptops and Ultrabooks
Every year, hundreds of laptops debut on the showroom floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Last year, HP’s glass-covered 14″ Spectre Ultrabook was among the biggest announcements, commanding a price of $1,400. Four months later, dealnews listed the Sceptre for $1,099, or 22 percent off, and by October the spiffy PC was going for $999, a discount of 29 percent.
Some stars of last year’s show took even longer to drop in price, so don’t expect to see bargains until the fall. Or if you don’t mind buying the next-to-the-newest technology, watch for sharp price breaks on models that debuted in 2012.
Nvidia’s Project Shield was one of the biggest stories to come out of CES. No one expected a maker of graphics and mobile chips to produce a handheld, Android-based gaming system. But it did. The device won’t be out until the second quarter of the year, and pricing has not yet been announced. Even so, based on the price cycle of 2011’s hit — the Sony PlayStation Vita – dealnews figures there will probably be pre-order deals shortly before the actually debut, with more discounts coming a month or two later.
Unlike with smartphones, CES is the place to see the latest and greatest HDTVs. Calling TV pricing trends is difficult, but last year dealnews tracked prices on the Samsung UN40EH6000 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV. (Wouldn’t it be great if these products had simpler names?)
It was released in February 2012 for the retail price of $849, and by March 21, it could be purchased for as little as $699 (17 percent off). It took another three months for the price to drop down to $589 (31 percent off). Meanwhile, 2012’s Panasonic TC-P50GT50 VIERA 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV debuted in March for $1,799 and took three months to drop to $1,250 (31 percent off).
If you don’t need that TV right away, waiting at least a month or two is your best bet. As is the case with PCs, 2012 models will be discounted very soon, so keep an eye on them and you could find yourself with a very spiffy TV at a great price.
There were a number of new phones, mostly from Asia, that debuted at CES. No doubt they will get cheap in a hurry, but CES is simply not the place where major smartphone makers strut their best stuff. Look elsewhere.
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.