Best time to buy new electronics
Some new tech items drop faster in price than others after their debut at the Consumer Electronics Show.
This post comes from Louis Ramirez at Dealnews.
The biggest tech trade show in the industry came to a close last week in the cavernous hallways of the Las Vegas Convention Center. And while most gadget fans were glued to their Twitter feeds salivating at the latest news and announcements, we at Dealnews were excited for another reason.
For us, CES isn't just about new product announcements; it's also the start of a new season of deals. Immediately after the show you see new cuts on last year's technology, and soon after you'll begin seeing discounts on the latest gadgets as well.
But how long must you wait before 2013's most anticipated devices go on sale? To find out, we turned back the clock to CES 2012 and tracked a few product announcements from last year's show to see how long it took them to make their Dealnews debut.
Laptops and ultrabooks
Every year, hundreds of laptops make their glittering debut on the showroom floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Last year, HP's glass-covered 14-inch Spectre ultrabook was among the biggest announcements, commanding a price of $1,400. Four months later, we listed the Sceptre on Dealnews for $1,099, or 22% off. The Spectre dropped in price again in October when we listed it at $999, or 29% off.
Likewise, the Dell XPS 13 ultrabook was announced at CES 2012 and was released shortly thereafter in February. However, this ultra-thin laptop didn't see any deals until late September when we listed it for $900 (10% off). That's a whopping eight months after its debut.
Bottom line: Unfortunately, it appears as if the flashy laptop stars of CES take a long time before they receive any discounts, ranging from four to nine months. As a result, penny pinchers might want to bypass trendy CES laptops and instead look for solid deals on last year's models, many of which will pack similar specs as the newer laptops, albeit in a less-glossy chassis or sans a touch screen.
One of the biggest stories to come out of CES 2013 is NVIDIA's foray into the hardware market. Project Shield is a 5-inch Android-based portable gaming console running on NVIDIA's new Tegra 4 chip. The device is slated to debut in Q2 of 2013, and while there's no mention of price, we expect this console to see a healthy amount of promotions even before it's released.
Why such a bold prediction? When Sony first announced its PlayStation Vita at E3 in June of 2011, the retail price for the gaming handheld was set at $249. Months later, we began seeing Vita preorder deals, many of which came bundled with a $20 gift card. Sony then showed off the Vita at CES in January 2012, and by the time it was officially released in February, it took just three weeks for us to see the first Vita discount when we listed it for $235 (6% off). The following month we saw used Vita deals selling for $162, and in September we saw the Vita at $207 (17% off).
Bottom line: We think it's likely that we'll see preorder deals for NVIDIA's Project Shield days before its release. For dollar-off discounts, expect to wait about a month into the handheld's life cycle.
Although CES isn't where most manufacturers make their smartphone announcements, the show has managed to see a handful of important debuts in previous years. Just last year, for instance, Nokia and Microsoft unveiled the Nokia Lumia 900. The phone was officially released on April 8 for $99 (with a two-year contract on AT&T). However, preorders for this phone hit $0 the week before its release. That's right: This phone hit $0 before it even came out.
Another major CES phone debut came from Palm when it announced the now-defunct Palm Pre back at CES 2009. The phone was released on the Sprint network in June for $199, and we listed our first deal on that phone on July 31 for $170 (15% off). Three days later it dropped to $99 (50% off).
Bottom line: As we've seen before, finding deals on new smartphones doesn't take long. If you have your eye on a new smartphone from CES, your best bet is to wait a few weeks as chances are high you'll see some sort of discount soon after its debut.
HDTVs have become the meat and potatoes of CES. To get an idea of HDTV price trends, we tracked the Samsung UN40EH6000 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV from its debut last year. It was released in February for a retail price of $849, and by March 21 we had listed our first deal for $699 (17% off). It took an additional three months for the price to drop to $589 (31% off).
Meanwhile, 2012's Panasonic TC-P50GT50 VIERA 50-inch 1080p 3-D plasma HDTV debuted in March for $1,799 but didn't see a deal until late June for $1,250 (31% off).
Bottom line: The deal cycle of an HDTV is less predictable, as evidenced by the two examples above. That said, if you wait at least a month after a TV's release, you might see a respectable dollar-off discount. But ultimately, we recommend looking at the previous year's model, which will be much cheaper and most likely perform just as well as the new model (minus a few new features).
While you'll certainly see better deals on CES 2013 electronics the longer they age in their product cycle, you can still snag an initial deal with a little patience. If you're really set on a new gadget from this year's CES, we recommend waiting at least a month, because chances are high that it'll see some sort of discount or promotion.
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