This Black Friday, tablets will once again battle it out with laptops for the main spotlight. However, for productivity, laptops will remain the computing device of choice for shoppers. And that's good news because we expect to see a plethora of discounts on systems to suit all needs and budgets. So what can you expect from the best laptop deals this Black Friday?
Desktop Replacements Will Drop to New Lows
Throughout the year, we've seen a steady stream of deals on 17" desktop replacements with prices remaining very close to their 2011 Black Friday low of $800. These fully-equipped laptops, which feature Core i7 quad-core CPUs, at least 8GB of RAM, and at least a 500GB hard drive, have continued to drop, hitting as low as $550 in February of this year. That said, for this Black Friday we're staying somewhat conservative and predicting that such i7 laptop prices will drop to $525.
Budget Laptops Hit Plateau, But Still Offer Good Value
Last Black Friday, budget dual-core 15" to 16" laptops hit $180, which was just $9 lower than our $189 prediction. Truth be told, budget laptops can't get much lower than that, and they haven't since last Black Friday. Like 42" HDTVs, they've hit rock bottom, and it'll be challenging for them to get any cheaper. As a result, this year we predict these systems will go as low as $179. For value-driven shoppers, that's still cheaper than both the Amazon Kindle HD and Google Nexus 7, neither of which come with a keyboard.
The Mainstream Core i5 Ivy Bridge Laptop
A step above the budget systems would of course be any laptop with the latest series of Intel CPUs. Not only do Ivy Bridge systems offer extra horsepower, but they also pack better integrated graphics, connectivity, and all-around design than their predecessors. These systems are the everyday workhorse that users want by their side.
The good news is that since their debut on dealnews in June, 15" Core i5 Ivy Bridge laptops with at least 4GB of RAM have seen tremendous deals, dropping 27% in price in less than 5 months. In fact, we saw a deal for just $400 this summer. And, if these systems parallel the Black Friday drop we saw on similar Sandy Bridge configurations last year, then a mainstream 15" Ivy Bridge Core i5 laptop could fall to as low as $369 in 2012.
Ultraportables: The Hottest Trend in Laptops
Since the redesign of Apple's MacBook Air, ultraportables have been a hit with consumers. The specifications on an ultraportable can vary greatly, but loosely defined, any laptop that weighs under 3 lbs. qualifies. For our Black Friday prediction, we specifically researched deals on 12" ultraportables with a Core i5 processor throughout the past two years. What we found was that this once prohibitively expensive category of travel-friendly laptops has fallen to as low as $499 in 2012.
In the summer months leading into Black Friday 2011, these ultraportables were averaging $714, and they dropped to $574 on Black Friday. So far this year, ultraportables have bottomed out at $499, so we will in turn predict that they will hit a new low of $399 this Black Friday.
Summary: Black Friday Predictions for Laptops
- 17" desktop replacement with Core i7 & 8GB RAM for $525
- Basic 15" to 16" Laptop with dual-core processor for $179
- Mainstream 15" to 16" Laptop with Ivy Bridge Core i5 CPU & 4GB RAM for $364
- 12" Ultraportable Laptop with Core i5 CPU for $399