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November 23, 2006

Holiday shopping outlook for tech gadgets

Erica Ogg reports at CNET on the holiday shopping outlook for tech gadgets and it looks bright for vendors and retailers with a 27.6%increase in spending being forecast by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). Perhaps better is that aside from the next-generation gaming consoles (Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii), there aren’t expected to be crowd maddening shortages. So what’s hot?

Analysts anticipate flat-panel TVs will lead all consumer electronics sales this holiday season, aided by some bargain Black Friday prices. More high-definition content than ever is available to watch on those wider, thinner screens, and steadily declining prices have made LCD, plasma, microdisplay and direct-view HD sets increasingly affordable.

The prices of flat panels “are right in the sweet spot of what people are looking for,” said Baker. “For the first time, they’re going to be available to more than just a couple people.”

Unit sales of HDTVs are up 52 percent between January and September this year, compared with the same period in 2005, according to the NPD Group. The average price of TVs is also down 8 percent since last year, indicating that consumers and retailers both should go home happy in the coming weeks.

Several retailers are trying to move notebook computers off their shelves. Wal-Mart has been advertising a Compaq laptop for $398, and Staples is countering with a $399 Compaq laptop with a rebate for a free HP inkjet printer. But the ad that will raise the most eyebrows is undoubtedly the Compaq from Circuit City for $99 with a one-year Vonage subscription.

You can get the Circuit City Compaq for $299 if you don’t want the Vonage subscription.

Digital audio players should top the holiday wish lists of adults and teens, the CEA said at its annual conference in October. Sales of MP3 players of all the major brands should be strong, including the most high-profile newcomer, Microsoft’s Zune, according to Baker. While nobody camped out to be the first in line to buy one, he predicts sales of the Wi-Fi-enabled music player will pick up in the next month.

Speaking of which, Zune News Site is collecting Zune reviews which are admittedly less than stellar. The consensus is that it’s OK, but could be better. More:

Digital cameras will be a popular gift this year, too. Not just low-end cameras, but pricey single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras as well. Thirty-seven percent of adult respondents to the CEA’s annual holiday spending survey said they planned to give a digital camera as a gift this year.

The higher end cameras are attractive to upgraders who want newer technologies like anti-shake.

Looks like there is something to please everyone.

Posted at 8:09 pm. Filed under Bargains, Black Friday, Brands, Companies, Compaq, Cyber Monday, Digital Cameras, Laptop, LCD TV, Microsoft, MP3 Player, Notebook, Plasma TV, Portable Audio, Television, Zune

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