No Foolin' -- Find Tablet Bargains in April

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April may be the cruelest month for poets, but it won't be for deal seekers on non-Apple tablets, large HDTVs, desktop computer replacements, and ultrabooks.

Apple's decision to chop $100 off the price of a basic iPad 2 will pressure tablet makers to trim their prices to stay competitive, according to the deal watchers at

Rather than shelve the new iPad's predecessor, as it did with the original iPad, Apple decided to continue selling the iPad 2 starting at $399 -- $349 at some discounters. That will prod other tablet makers to reassess their pricing structure, Dealnews reasons in its monthly analysis of deal trends.

"[N]on-Apple slate manufacturers will feel compelled to respond aggressively, and as such we've already seen a new all-time low on the Amazon Kindle Fire," it observes. "Could this be a sign of things to come from other tablets as well?"

Not everyone sees the iPad 2's pricing as much of a factor on the pricing at the low end of the market where the Kindle Fire lives. They argue that the iPad 2's pricing is designed to blunt competition from the growing number of 10-inch tablets in the $300-$400 price bracket.

Nevertheless, changes appear to be in the winds, according to Decide combs the Internet for intelligence on pricing to predict price moves on products. Of the top eight non-Apple tablets, the website recommends only one as a "buy now" because its price isn't likely to drop­ -- Motorola's Xoom tablet.

For shoppers looking for a deal on an iPad 3, that isn't likely for at least six months and even then it would be a small discount of 10 percent, Dealnews notes. It bases that prediction on historic pricing trends for the iPad 2.

Deals in April on 55-inch HDTVs will be good, but won't break any new ground for the year, Dealnews says. Deals should be available during the period on name-brand 55-inchers for under $800 and on off-brand sets for under $590. Those deals on the off-brand models are 14 percent better than they were during all of 2011, the deal site observed.

Those $590 deals, though, aren't appearing at Decide yet. Some 55-inch off-brand models are selling at below $800. For the majority of them, Decide is recommending a buy because it isn't seeing any price drops in sight.

Neither are any 55-inch brand-name TVs listed at below $800, but for the majority of those that are listed, Decide is recommending "wait" because either a price change or new model is in the wings.

Dealnews also notes that deals on 46-inch HDTVs are at below last year's Black Friday levels, with deals at $550 now compared to $598 during the holiday season.

It adds that the deal window on 3D TVs appears to have closed temporarily. Nothing is in sight that compares to the $699 deals that appeared in February, and it doesn't expect that kind of deal to appear again until the summer.

Consumers looking for hefty notebooks, commonly known as desktop replacements, can still find deals at Black Friday levels, Dealnews says. For less than $800, you should be able to pick up, if you have the strength, a model with a display larger than 17 inches, plus 8GB of RAM, Intel Core i7 processor, and a hard drive of 500GB or more.

While models with those prodigious specs can't be found at Decide for less than $800, models from Dell, Asus and HP can be found for around $850.

Dealnews also predicts that a trend in deals on ultrabooks will continue during April. Two models it recommends keeping an eye on are the Asus Zenbook, which hit a price low in March at $849, and the Acer Aspire S3, which reached a low of $749.

Those deals haven't affected pricing found at Decide yet. It expects prices on the Zenbook to remain steady or rise. For the the Aspire S3, prices will fluctuate within a range of $39. With the model selling in the $790 range now, it could easily hit a $750 low in April.

As for the original ultrabook -- the MacBook Air -- Decide is recommending shoppers for that portable keep their wallets in their pockets, as it sees a new model appearing just a scant four months away.

Follow freelance technology writer John P. Mello Jr. and Today@PCWorld on Twitter.

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder Apple MacBook Air MC505LL/A Notebook

  • Generic Company Place Holder Motorola XOOM Family Edition MZ505 Tablet Computer

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