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Cracking the gadget pricing code: Buy now or wait?

Tom Spring | Dec. 17, 2012
I get an uneasy feeling every time I belly up to the Best Buy cash register and fork over my credit card to buy a big ticket item. My worst fear? A sudden drop in retail pricing—one that occurs immediately after I make my purchase.

PriceGrabber says it's seeing a 37 percent uptick in unit sales of tablets. It says the average price of what people are spending on tablets equals what it was last year: $199. "The average price is the same, but buyers are getting more for their money when it comes to storage and features," Avanesian says.

The biggest boost has been in display resolution specs. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Google have all improved display resolution to provide higher pixel densities in relatively low-cost tablets.

Buying Advice: If your tablet budget is under $200, buy now. A price wars driving these already subsidized devices to cheaper levels just isn't in the cards.

Windows 8 PC prices not headed down

Is now the best time to buy a snazzy new Windows 8 laptop or hybrid notebook? Experts say yes, because prices are actually inching up when you look at the entire product category as a whole. NPD's Baker says PC prices in general are stable for Windows 8 hardware, but at the high-end of the market, with laptops and hybrid tablet/notebooks, the prices are creeping up, thanks to demand.

Baker says while PC sales are not as strong as computer makers would like, they are still moving in the right direction. "Overall, I'd say PC prices are pretty stable," Baker says. "At this point [new Windows 8 hardware] sales are just getting started and it would be silly to see price cuts now."

Buying Advice: Based on our experts advice, the time is right to buy a high-end Windows 8 notebook or hybrid. But you may want to wait until 2013 to see if pricing comes down on lower-end systems, or if PC makers tempt us with beefier specs for the same levels of pricing.

The bottom line on the bottom line

There are no official best or worst times to buy when it comes to purchasing consumer electronics. Most of the time, we make a purchase because we want something, not because we need something. That said, take your time, do your homework, shop around for the best price, and remember: A skeptical shopper is a smart shopper.


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