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Touchscreen laptops aren't the future of mobile computing; they're present day must-haves. According to NPD DisplaySearch, as many as 19.8 million touch-enabled notebook PCs shipped last year, and the number is expected to increase in 2014. And being the natural penny pinchers we are, we decided to track deals on touchscreen laptops to see where prices are going and how they compare to traditional systems. Our conclusion? Your next laptop purchase should include a touch display.
At the start of 2013, the cheapest 15.6" touchscreen laptop deal set you back $599. Prices tumbled throughout the year, but it wasn't until Black Friday that deals hit the rock bottom price of $329, a 45% price drop when compared to deals at the start of the year. Sure, 2014 will see its fair share of new touchscreen laptops with faster processors and higher resolution screens, but deal prices for mainstream touchscreen laptops will likely continue to remain around the sub-$400 range, which we've thus far seen in January.
If you want a touchscreen laptop without having to invest too much, the ultraportable is your best bet. Because of their size, 12" touchscreen laptops compete a little more directly with the 7" and 9" tablets of the world. As a result, the cheapest touchscreen laptop deals can be found in this size category. In fact, just last month we listed a 12" touchscreen ultraportable for $200. That's an impressive 62% drop from the category's best price at the start of 2013.
We admit: the idea of a touchscreen display on your laptop sounds like the ultimate marketing gimmick. However, Windows 8 was made for touchscreen machines and the concept is more practical than you'd think. As the Verge points out, the touchscreen is a complement, and not a replacement for your mouse and keyboard.
Although they were $100 pricier than their non-touch counterparts at the start of 2013, today touchscreen laptop deals are actually $41 cheaper than traditional systems. (We specifically compared them to 15.6" Ivy Bridge Core i5-based laptops.) Throughout the previous year, the price gap between the two quickly shrunk and during Black Friday both types of laptops fell to $379. However, post-Black Friday deals show that 15" touchscreen laptops have rebounded to $400, whereas non-touch 15" laptops spiked a tad higher to $441. So far in January touchscreen laptop deals have kept their $41 advantage.
Touchscreen laptops are not a fad, and there's no better proof of that than the support they're receiving from manufacturers. Dozens of new models were just unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show and more are expected to be released in the coming months. Sure, the same thing happened with netbooks, and it's true that Apple is against the idea of a touchscreen MacBook, but Apple was also against the idea of a tablet. Regardless of Apple's stance, touchscreens are here to stay. Adapt or be left out.
As the laptop industry continues to lose market share to tablets, you can expect deals on touchscreen laptops to get even better. Whether that means better specs for your money or lower prices on what's available now has yet to be determined. Either way, deals are in the consumer's favor and there are few, if any, reasons not to go touchscreen.