Heavily discounted PCs and tablets will be sold by top retailers on Black Friday, which marks one of the most active shopping days in the U.S. Walmart and Best Buy will offer fully equipped laptops for under $200, continuing a promotional price battle they have engaged in for years.
The sub-$200 laptops have slow processors and may lack key components, but could be effective desktop replacements for basic tasks like office productivity applications, Web surfing and video.
Faster and better-equipped laptops with more storage are also being sold for between $300 and $400 by retailers including Office Depot. Analysts have predicted a rise in laptop prices over the coming quarters with hard drive shortages due to extensive flooding in Thailand, so this may be a good time to buy. (See also "Black Friday Doorbuster Deals Preview.")
Walmart and Staples are offering tablets starting at $99. Depending on the store, the laptops and tablets could be on sale on November 24 or 25, or both days.
Laptops Under $200
Walmart is offering Hewlett-Packard's Compaq laptop with a dual-core AMD C-50 processor for $198, according to a Black Friday circular posted on the retailer's website. The laptop has a 15.6-inch screen, 2GB of memory, 250GB hard drive and a webcam. The C-50 processors integrates a graphics processor and is able to handle high-definition video.
Not to be outdone, Best Buy is offering a Lenovo laptop with a 15.6-inch screen for $179.99 starting on Thursday next week into Friday. The laptop has a dual-core AMD E-300 processor, but no further details are available. The E-300 processor is faster than the C-50 processor in Walmart's $198 laptop, so applications and multimedia will run quicker. But Walmart's laptop has a webcam, which sometimes are not included in laptops under $200, so make sure to check Lenovo laptop's feature list. Nevertheless, at $179.99, this could the best laptop deal on a full-size laptop this Black Friday.
No details are available yet, but it's worth watching for deals at Fry's Electronics, which usually offers the best laptop pricing. The store has carried sub-$200 laptops over the last few years on Black Friday. It may also be worth searching the forums on Slickdeals.net, which is actively updated by users who find the hottest deals. Also scour sites like Dealcatcher or Dealnews, which brings users the best discounts.
Laptops Under $300
Walmart is selling an HP laptop with a 15.6-screen and AMD's E-350 processor for $248. It has impressive features, with 3GB of memory and a 320GB hard drive. For $50 more, Best Buy is offering a Samsung laptop with 4GB of memory, Intel's Pentium processor, 320GB hard drive and a 15.6-inch screen. Office Depot will offer a Gateway "exclusive" laptop for $299.99.
Other Laptop Deals
For those who need serious processing power, Walmart is offering an Acer Aspire laptop with Intel's Core i5 processor for $498. The laptop has a 17.3-inch screen, 4GB memory and a 640GB hard drive. Office Depot will offer a Toshiba laptop with 500GB storage for $399. Also, don't be surprised to see laptops with quad-core chips from AMD for sale under $500.
Some tablets are also being heavily discounted on Black Friday. The most attractive is Velocity Micro's Cruz tablet, which is already on sale for only $99 on Walmart. The tablet has a 7-inch capacitive screen, Google's Android 2.0 that is upgradable to 2.2, and 4GB of storage expandable to 32GB. The tablet has a 528MHz MIPS processor, which is not blazing fast like dual-core processors on the latest tablets, but Cruz reviewers have said the tablet is useful for basic activities like e-books and web surfing.
Staples will offer the BlackBerry Playbook for $199, and Acer Iconia Tab tablet for $299, according to their Black Friday circular. The Iconia Tab offers the latest hardware and software, including a dual-core processor and Android 3.x, code-named Honeycomb.