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DealNews 2008 Black Friday Predictions

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Ready or not, the holiday shopping season is fast approaching. With just 100 days left until Christmas, we're kicking off the holidays at dealnews with our Black Friday deal predictions, compiled by myself with the help of several of our expert staff.

A quick clarification before we start prognosticating. Some of these deals will involve mail-in rebates. However, the good news is that most won't. Best Buy, OfficeMax, and Wal-Mart have each given up on mail-in rebates after numerous customer complaints. Onto the predictions.

Computers are a big item around the holidays, and ultra-mobile PC laptops (also known as UMPCs or Netbooks) are among the hottest systems around. We expect to see a UMPC hit $199. (They've already been within $20 of that.) Want a traditional notebook? It used to be that a $400 laptop was something you'd only see on Black Friday, but $400 laptops now are quite common. We expect to see a 15" Intel or AMD Dual Core laptop hit $299 on Black Friday. Of course, it won't be particularly well equipped. Those looking for something with a little more juice won't be left out in the cold, as we predict you'll find a loaded 15.4" Intel Core 2 Duo laptop for $399, with at least 3GB of RAM, a big hard drive, and so on. Don't expect desktops to be overlooked, either — we're anticipating a moderately-equipped PC (dual-core, 250GB HDD, DVD burner) bundled with a 19" LCD to hit $299. Just need a new display? We predict 22" LCD monitors will be found for as little as $99.

Summary: Black Friday Predictions for Laptop and Desktop PCs

  • UMPC for $199
  • 15" Intel or AMD Dual Core laptop for $299
  • well-equipped 15.4" Intel Core 2 Duo laptop for $399
  • moderately-equipped PC (dual-core, 250GB HDD, DVD burner) bundled with a 19" LCD for $299
  • 22" LCD monitors for $99

As far as audio/video is concerned, high-definition video — in particular Blu-ray — will take a leading roll in this year's sale. Major tech blogs have predicted you'll see a $199 Blu-ray player on Black Friday. Balderdash, I say! It'll be much lower: We already saw a $229 Blu-ray player in August, and last year, HD-DVD player prices fell 50% overnight during the march to Black Friday. So, we're predicting that you'll be able to get a Blu-ray player for an astonishing $149. Also, like last year, we expect some retailers will take the package approach, bundling a low-end name-brand (Sony, Samsung, or Philips) Blu-ray player with several Blu-ray titles for $199. Blu-ray movies are already sometimes found at $9.99, so you won't see them get much lower, although you will see better titles at that price. (Think Iron Man, not Major League: Back to the Minors.)

Summary: Black Friday Predictions for Blu-ray

  • Blu-ray player for $149
  • Blu-ray player / movie bundle for $199
  • Blu-ray movies you actually want for $9.99

We spent a lot of time comparing current price trends on TVs this year with the trends that led up to Black Friday of last year. Our conclusion is, if you've been waiting to upgrade your TV, this holiday season is the time to do it. With the switch to digital broadcasting looming, retailers will be pulling out all of the stops for your HDTV dough. If you're on a budget, consider a plasma display instead of an LCD display — inch for inch, they tend to be cheaper. In fact, we predict a 42" 720p plasma HDTV for as little as $499. A $699 50" plasma HDTV is also quite likely, although we're not expecting huge discounts on larger plasma screens.

LCD prices will remain higher than plasma, but they'll still dip considerably, with generic 42" 720p LCD HDTVs going for $599. Additionally, look for name-brand 46" or 47" 1080p LCD HDTVs to hit $799, and larger 52" 1080p HDTVs to drop to $1,199.

Before you buy a TV on Black Friday, consider this: Last year, the best time to buy a good TV wasn't on Black Friday. It was three weeks before Christmas. At that time, Fry's and Amazon went to war on high-end LCD HDTVs (most notably Samsung 1080p 120Hz LCD TVs from 40" and up), slashing prices again and again. You know it's a big deal when dealnews' own cheapskate editors bring out their wallets and start buying TVs. The general rule is, Black Friday is the best time of the year to buy no-name TVs. December is the best time to buy high-end TVs.

Summary: Black Friday Predictions for LCD & Plasma TVs

  • 42" 720p plasma HDTV for $499
  • 50" 720p plasma HDTV for $699
  • 42" 720p LCD HDTVs for $599
  • 46" or 47" brand-name 1080p LCD HDTVs for $799
  • 52" 1080p HDTVs for $1,199

The new iPods will likely be on your shopping list. Although they won't be heavily discounted, you can expect to save a little. For the umpteenth year in a row, Apple will have its very own Black Friday sale. It'll be in stores and online, but beat the crowds and take advantage of Apple's sitewide free shipping (normally a $49 minimum applies). As for the deals, expect Apple to repeat last year's specials, slicing up to 10% off its new iPod lineup. In addition, they've historically offered from 5 to 10% off iMac and MacBook purchases, as well as aggressive discounts on select accessories, peripherals, and software. 10% may not sound like much, but for the brand-new Apple Macs everyone is expecting to be released in October, it'll be the best deal around. Of course, the real best deals will be on Apple's refurbished Macs and iPods. They're almost always flawless and come with the exact same warranty as new ones, but for up to 30% less.

Mac or PC, 2008 has been the year of digital media, with more outlets than ever selling audio and video for your portable media players and home theater PCs. We predict that this Black Friday will be a great time to buy that external hard drive you've been keeping your eye on. 10 cents per GB will be the magic number, so expect to find 500GB USB 2.0 external hard drives for $49, or 1TB models for $99.

Summary: Black Friday Predictions for iPods, Macs, and hard drives

  • Free shipping no min at Apple Store online
  • the newest iPods for 10% off
  • iMac and MacBook purchases for 5% to 10% off
  • 500GB USB 2.0 external hard drives for $49
  • 1TB models for $99

Digital picture frames were one of the hottest items last holiday season, and we expect demand for them to be just as high again this year. We expect you'll find a 7" frame for $25 or a 9" frame for $49. You'll need a new camera to fill up those photo frames, and you can expect big savings on digital cameras as well. We're predicting that the best-selling Canon PowerShot SD1100 Digital ELPH will hit $139, well under the $200 that most stores charge. Budding cinematographers will be able to purchase an entry-level HD camcorder for $99. It'll be one of those basic flash-based models, however.

GPS prices fell dramatically last Black Friday. This year, you'll see more of the same. Entry-level GPS units (sorry, not the Garmin nüvi) will hit $49, while a well-equipped GPS with a widescreen LCD and built-in Bluetooth will go as low as $99. (We've already seen that price for a refurbished Magellan model.)

Summary: Black Friday Predictions for GPSs, Digital Photo Frames, and Digital Cameras

  • 7" digital picture frame for $25
  • 9" digital picture frame for $49
  • Canon PowerShot SD1100 8MP Digital ELPH for $139
  • HD camcorder for $99
  • entry-level GPS units should hit $49
  • widescreen GPS with Bluetooth for $99

Last but not least, there will be hundreds of deals on low-cost computer and technology items. Expect to score 802.11n wireless routers, PC cases, Secure Digital cards, USB flash drives, 500-watt power supplies, and more — all for $0 after rebate(s). Many of these are likely to be found at Office Depot and Staples, which traditionally waive the $50 minimum purchase to qualify for free shipping around Black Friday. (Free shipping on a Sharpie is kind of a holiday tradition here at dealnews.) OfficeMax won't have $0 items but should waive its minimums on free shipping as well.

Despite most Black Friday sales' focus on tech items, those not looking for electronics won't be out of luck. You can expect to find best-of-year coupons from the likes of DeepDiscount.com, Lacoste, Overstock.com, Timberland, and Petco. Other online retailers are likely to team up with Google Checkout or PayPal to offer special discounts.

I'm sad to report that there won't be any deals on a few popular items. Want to buy an iPhone 3G? Sorry, it won't be on sale. Shopping for a Nintendo Wii console this Black Friday? Not only is there no chance of a deal, you'll be lucky to find one in stock at list price.

All-told, you can expect some very aggressive deals this Black Friday, if our prognostication prowess is to be believed. (The bulk of them will be referenced in our special Black Friday deals section.) Even so, the deals running up to Black Friday (October 31-November 26) and from Cyber Monday to Christmas are likely to be just as good or better, as they were last year. The best advice I can give you is to be choosy about when you buy. When it comes to tech products during the holiday season, there's often a better deal just around the corner.

Dan de Grandpre is the CEO and Chief Dealguy at dealnews.

Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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