Google's Nexus 7 is fast approaching its 1-year anniversary, and not surprisingly, the Internet is obsessed with rumors of its replacement. According to Reuters, Google's follow-up will be thinner, provide better battery life, and most importantly, it'll be cheaper than its predecessor. In fact, the new tablet could be up to $50 cheaper than the original Nexus 7.
While we love the idea of a $149 Android tablet, this price point could mean little-to-no discount on Google's next tablet. Because really, how much cheaper can a tablet of that caliber possibly get without the manufacturer going belly up? A $149 price point would place the Nexus 7 alongside a handful of other items that have seemingly hit their own deal plateaus.
Over the past two years, we've noticed how several types of electronics have stubbornly refused to get any cheaper. Naturally, new tech releases will periodically appear at high retail prices, but our data suggests that as far as rock-bottom deals go, we have likely already seen the cheapest feasible prices on devices within these five categories. (Unless otherwise noted, prices are referring to all-time lows, not averages.)
32" and 42" 1080p LCD HDTVs
Last September, deals on 32" 1080p LCD HDTVs hit rock bottom at $169. Since then, these TVs have remained at or slightly above that magic $169 price point. The same can be said of 42" 1080p HDTVs, which bottomed out at $189 in 2011 and $180 in 2012.
Could we see even lower prices on these sizes? Perhaps, but we feel that $169 for a 32" and $180 for a 42" is about as good as it gets for a long time to come. As a result, we're now seeing great deals on 55" and 60" HDTVs, as retailers try to make 55" TVs the new entry-level model and unseat 42" sets.
Point-and-shoot cameras have been declining in price (and relevance) for quite some time. Smartphones are mostly to blame, as casual photographers turn to their mobile phones to instantly upload photos to Facebook and Instagram. To entice shoppers, retailers have discounted digital cameras across the board. For instance, last November we spotted a 12-megapixel Kodak EasyShare camera for $37. Although we haven't seen a repeat of this deal, we doubt we'll see 12MP cameras for much less anytime in the near future.
Blu-ray Disc Players
Initially expensive, Blu-ray players have drastically plummeted in price since their debut. In fact, you can now buy one for just $35. Those with built-in WiFi tend to cost a bit more, at $45. If you compare them to current prices on standard DVD players, it's plausible that both variations might get a little cheaper. However, chances are that the difference will be slight, as Blu-ray players are very close to hitting their deal plateau.
For the past two years, the lowest-of-the-low prices on budget laptops (15" notebooks with any dual-core processor) haven't changed. In fact, in 2011 the best deal for such a configuration was $180, whereas in 2012 the best deal came in at $179. Needless to say, there's no room for further discounting below that point, as prices on these no-frills systems have hit rock bottom.
Budget Tablets From Major Brands
Amazon revolutionized the tablet market when it became the first company to offer a mainstream Android tablet for just below $200. However, because the Kindle is sold at cost, deals for Amazon's tablet remain scarce. (Instead of dollar-off discounts, the Kindle sees more promotions where it's bundled with a gift card.) Likewise, if the next-generation Google Nexus 7 is sold at $149 (or even $99 as CNET reports), chances are high we won't see any deals on new units until Black Friday, when at best we might see some bundle offers.
So while we — and presumably budget-conscious consumers — welcome the idea of a $99 or $149 mainstream tablet, don't be surprised if it doesn't get much cheaper than that. Of course, with these other deal categories, the starting prices are generally much higher than the prices we quoted; in order to find that 32" 1080 HDTV for less than $200, for example, you'll want to set up an email alert so you'll be notified as soon as we post a deal to the site.