Wal-Mart Stores is whacking prices on PCs and TVs in a bid to expand its electronics business.
The retailing giant has started selling a Compaq laptop for $398 a few weeks ahead of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the biggest shopping days of the year.
Wal-Mart is also touting a 42-inch Panasonic plasma TV for $1,294 (down from $1,794) and a 37-inch HDTV LCD from Panasonic for $997 (down from $1,297).
Wal-Mart tried a similar electronics blitz last year without great success.
Wal-Mart’s salvo won’t be the last holiday price cut, Baker predicted.
“We’re probably going to see a $199 notebook on Black Friday,” he said. “Certainly, we are going to see aggressive prices.”
This year’s $398 Wal-Mart laptop comes with a 15.4-inch screen, a 3300+ Sempron processor from Advanced Micro Devices that churns at 2.0GHz, a 60GB hard drive and 512MB of memory. It’s beefed up from last year’s $398 notebook, which had a 15-inch screen, a 40GB drive and 256MB of memory.
Despite a statement in the article, it’s only available in stores currently and not online, but it seems to be a quite reasonable system that’s quite a bargain at the price. Of course, when one retailer starts shooting, the others will fire back so I would guess there will be similar offers elsewhere too. Unless you really relish the Black Friday mosh pit, you should check out these early bargains.
Finally, I have a caveat on buying PC’s this holiday season. The Wal-Mart machine comes with XP Media Center Edition which may well qualify you for a free upgrade to Windows Vista Home Premium, (see also ) but there’s no mention of such an offer in the online listing although the machine is the bare minimum “Vista Capable.” If you really plan on upgrading an XP machine bought during the next few months with a coupon, make sure you are getting what you think you are getting. And if the idea of upgrading the operating system fills you with trepidation, then you should wait until Vista actually starts getting preloaded as some commentators are recommending.