The holiday buying season may be in full swing at the moment, but as seasoned shoppers know, many of the best deals of the year are yet to come. Right after the holiday hype-balloon pops, prices plummet. And if you’ve been patient enough to wait – or unlucky enough to miss getting the one thing you really wanted on Christmas morning – the bargains are there for the taking.
Just like in every other industry, post-Christmas deals on consumer electronics crop up because retailers overstock certain items for the holidays and need to clear out their stock afterwards. But geeks have one more factor working in their favor: the Mecca of technology tradeshows – the International CES in Las Vegas – comes less than a month after Christmas. With a flurry of new products on the horizon, retailers are even more motivated to clear out old electronics items to make room for the latest and greatest.
So after you’ve taken down your tree, cleaned up the last bits of shredded gift wrap, and put away the train set, consider treating yourself with a trip to the stores. Here are five types of items we think will be ripe for sales, and why:
We’ve already seen the price of LCD and plasma televisions fall dramatically every year since they first hit the market, but now they’re becoming so ubiquitous that manufacturers are beginning to phase out their traditional CRT sets, leaving deals on discontinued models (Panasonic, for instance, nixed their CRT line in 2006.) If you have the room and don’t mind rounding up a couple of guys to help you move one, CRTs can be fantastic bargains. Besides dropping prices, they still offer the best picture quality when it comes to standard-definition content, and as a mature technology, they don’t suffer from many of the problems newer LCD and plasma sets do, such as motion blur and burn-in.
However, if you’re dead set on a flat screen, deals on them should be common as well, due to the pre-holiday buildup at major retailers. While Black Friday offered the best deals on no-name brands, post-holiday says may net better sales from recognized brands, which will be the ones rolling out new technology at CES.
Much like televisions, flat screens are quickly replacing CRT monitors in the computer world, and prices are following suit. Unlike televisions, though, CRT monitors are so close to the brink of extinction that the deals have actually passed, and most big box stores don’t even carry them anymore. The good news: that means there should be plenty of high-quality overstocked LCD monitors hitting shelves after Christmas. And if you already received one as a gift, don’t forget that you can still take advantage of the post-holiday savings to get a slick dual-monitor setup, as long as you have a video card with more than one output.
Presuming you’ve already scored that hot console system or gaming desktop you wanted for Christmas, you’re still going to need some games to play. Fortunately, after Christmas is a great time to get them. Game publishers work overtime to make sure they hit fall release dates so they can sell them at full price through the holidays. But once the season passes, they may need to give consumers an additional incentive to move these titles, meaning you might be able to swoop in and pick them up for less. Top sellers, like Halo 3, Guitar Hero III, and Rock Band, will likely be immune to this discounting, though, so keep your eyes on lower-profile games to find the best deals.
Unlike many other electronic items that consumers snap up solely on the basis of what they do, image is a major factor when it comes to MP3 players, since they’ve become as much fashion accessories as gadgets. What this means: just as clothing retailers will be trying dump all the clothes that weren’t quite as hot as they thought when they stocked up, tech retailers will be doing the same with MP3 players. We saw it with discounts on the slow-selling Microsoft Zune before Christmas, and chances are we’ll see it with some other unfortunate players after Christmas. For consumers, the good part is that a player that missed the mark on style might very well offer some very good features at a bargain price. Just make sure to find some reviews of potential players ahead of time, to make sure you’re not buying a complete dud.
Digital Picture Frames
These formerly niche items somehow hit the mainstream when the price became right, but we’re not totally convinced that every household receiving them this year will be so thrilled. (Sometimes Grandma would really rather take her pictures to the lab, thank you!) As a result, we’re guessing there will be quite a few floating around the returned items table, and that kind of merchandise always comes with a nice discount. Just be sure to test it in the store, if possible, or ensure there is some sort of return policy, since dead pixels can always be an issue on LCD displays.
If you know of some killer deals, please post them in our forums. We would love to see what’s out there.
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