Wal-Mart Jumpstarts Holiday Sales

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Just as it did last year with a Friday sale that lured shoppers into its maze of fluorescent lighting for $350 laptops, Wal-Mart will once again begin its holiday sales early with a one-day shopping event to precede Black Friday. The company’s Saturday sale will include several high-profile deals, including a laptop for $298, a 46-inch Sanyo LCD HDTV for $798, and a PS3 that comes with a $100 gift card.

Specifications on the $298 laptop, a Compaq CQ50-139WM, have moved up significantly from the models offered as last year’s doorbusters. Though it will still get a single-core Intel Celeron M processor clocked at 2GHz, the CQ50 also gets 2GB of DDR2 RAM a 160GB hard drive, and Intel’s 4500MHD media accelerator.

Surprisingly, Sanyo’s 46-inch LCD HDTV, model DP46848, boasts full 1080p resolution.  Its other specs are less impressive but not completely antiquated, including 6.5ms response time, 2,000:1 contrast ratio, and 500cd/m2 brightness. It normally retails for $1,098.

For those who have been waiting for the right time to jump in on a PlayStation 3, Wal-Mart’s $100 gift card deal will likely be among the best seen this season. Though it doesn’t actually cut the cost on the system from $399, the gift card should be useful for games, cables, and all the other requisite accessories.

Less advertised deals include a 2GB Sony Walkman MP3 player for $49, a Sony PlayStation 2 with $30 gift card for $129, and a Samsung S760 7-megapixel digital camera for $89.