Sizing up the Black Friday laptop deals

Summary:It's that time of year again. Yes, this is the week when shoppers will wake up in the dark, stand in line for hours and stampede into stores for a shot at $70 Blu-ray players and $300 LCD TVs.

It's that time of year again. Yes, this is the week when shoppers will wake up in the dark, stand in line for hours and stampede into stores for a shot at $70 Blu-ray players and $300 LCD TVs. This year the deals won't disappoint with bargains such as a $150 netbook and laptops starting as low as $200.

Several major retailers have already posted Black Friday ads and some--including Amazon.com--jumped the gun and started Black Friday sales earlier this week. Apple is promising a 'special one-day shopping event' on Friday. The numerous Black Friday sites (links at the end of this post) have the details on these and many more stores. Of course there's a Twitter feed for Black Friday too (twitter.com/blackfriday). And there's even an app--lots of apps actually. Both The Wall Street Journal and eWeek have rounded up the Black Friday smartphone apps.

Here's a look at some of the deals you can expect to see laptops as well as other computer peripherals and electronics. Happy Holidays!

Amazon.com Amazon started its Black Friday sales on Monday, and they are likely to add news deals as the week progresses. The initial laptop deals include some of the same mainstream models that you'll seen on sale at retail stores later this week including the HP Pavilion dv6 and Toshiba Satellite L655, which both have a 15.6-inch 720p (1366x768) display. The dv6 is available with a 2.1GHz AMD Phenom II N830 triple-core processor, 4GB of memory, 320GB hard drive and DVD burner for $524.99. A similar configuration with a Turion II dual-core processor and a larger hard drive is $529.99. The Toshiba L655 has better specs (2.40GHz Intel Core i3-370M dual-core processor, 4GB and a 500GB hard drive) but also costs a bit more at $599.99.

The better deal is the Acer AS5742-7653, which includes a 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-460M dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive and DVD burner for $599.99. The higher-end Samsung Q430 is $729.99 with a 14-inch display, 2.53GHz Intel Core i5-460M dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, Nvidia GeForce 310M discrete graphics with 512MB, 500GB hard drive and DVD burner. This model has Nvidia's Optimus technology which automatically switches between integrated and discrete graphics to preserve battery life or maximize performance.

Some of Amazon's deals on computer peripherals and electronics look better. For example, I spotted a Seagate 2TB USB 2.0 external hard drive for $109.99 and the Flip MinoHD pocket camcorder also priced at $109.99. The MinoHD is the premium version of Cisco's Flip pocket HD, and ordinarily you have to hunt around to find the regular UltraHD version-one of my holiday picks--at this price.

Best Buy Best Buy has two "door-buster" laptops and several other models that will be on sale over the holiday weekend. Both door-buster deals involve the Sony VAIO EB series, a mainstream laptop with a 15.5-inch (1366x786) display. Best Buy will be selling this model for $399.99 with a 2.0GHz Intel Pentium P6100 dual-core processor, 3GB of memory, 320GB hard drive and DVD burner. You can also get the EB series with a Blu-ray player, and bundled with a Blu-ray move (The Karate Kid), Ogio B6 laptop bag and anti-virus program, for $499.99. This configuration has the same processor and 320GB hard drive, but with 4GB of memory and the Blu-ray drive. Other door-busters include the Nintendo Wii for $169.99, Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader for $99, Toshiba Blu-ray player for $59.99 and the Samsung Fascinate--Verizon's version of the Galaxy Android smartphone--free with a contract.

Several other laptops will be on sale at Best Buy stores. The Pavilion dv6 will be $499.99 with a 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M dual-core, 4GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive and DVD burner. This is a better deal than Amazon's Black Friday offers on this mainstay model. The Toshiba L655D will be $349.99 with a 2.4GHz AMD Turion II dual-core processor, 3GB of memory, 320GB hard drive and a DVD burner. You can get the same system with a more memory, a larger hard drive and an HP Deskjet wireless printer for $100 more. Best Buy is also offering $150 off any Samsung laptop.

In what could be a new low for netbooks, Best Buy will be selling an HP Compaq with a 10.1-inch display (1024x600) for $149.99. This is a bare-bones netbook with the base-line specs (1.66GHz Intel Atom single-core, 1GB of memory, 160GB hard drive and Windows 7 Starter edition) and I wouldn't recommend it for students or other users with digital music and video applications. But if you are looking for a basic system for e-mail and light tasks, it's hard to beat the price. Best Buy will also have a buy one (for $59.99), get one free deal on the Logitech C510 Webcam, which was also one of my picks for top tech gifts under $100.

Walmart Once again Walmart will be selling laptops at netbook-like prices, but these are strictly budget boxes starting at $198 with the eMachines eME528 (15.5-inch display, 2.2GHz Intel Celeron 900 processor, 2GB of memory, 250GB hard drive and DVD). The HP G56, another 15.6-inch model, will be available for $298 with virtually identical specs but with 3GB of memory. Walmart will also have two deals on desktop replacements-both with 17.3-inch widescreens. The HP G72 will be $398 with a 2.3GHz Intel Pentium T4500 dual-core chip, 3GB of memory processor, a 320GB hard drive and DVD burner. The Acer Aspire AS7741Z-4633 with a faster processor (the 2.0GHz Intel Pentium P6100 dual-core) and 4GB of memory will $498. Don't let the Pentium name fool you; the P6100 is a 32nm Arrandale processor--the same basic technology as the more costly Core i3 and Core i5 processors. Other Walmart Black Friday bargains include the Nintendo DS Lite for $89, Magnavox Blu-ray player with WiFi for $69, Vizio 37-inch 1080p HDTV for $378 and Flip UltraHD pocket camcorder for $99.

Target Target hasn't officially released its Black Friday deals yet (you can sign up to (receive them via e-mail or text), but a leaked circular has received lots of attention for a $298 Westinghouse 40-inch 1080p LCD TV. The circular posted online did not include any deals on laptops, though it did list a Western Digital 2TB external hard drive for $69. Through today Target is holding a pre-Black Friday sale, however, which includes an Acer 10.1-inch netbook for $179.99 (1.60GHz Intel Atom N450, 1GB of memory, 1560GB hard drive and Windows XP). Other good deals include a Garmin nuvi 255W GPS for $99 and the Nintendo DSi for $119.

Staples Staples "Countdown to Black Friday" isn't offering much in the way of laptops, though they do have some good deals on peripherals including a Seagate 2TB external hard drive for $99.99, a TomTom XXL 540M GPS for $169.99 and several LCD displays and all-in-one printers. Beginning Friday morning, though, they will have better laptop deals starting with a $299.98 HP G56 mainstream laptop with a 15.6-inch display, 2.20GHz Intel Celeron 900 single-core processor, 2GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive and DVD burner. For $100 more, you can get the 14.5-inch HP Pavilion dv5 with a 2.20GHz AMD Athlon II P340 dual-core chip, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive. Finally there's the 17.3-inch HP G72 with a 2.40GHz Core i3-370M processor, 4GB of memory and a 500GB hard drive for $499.98. That's about $100 more than Walmart's Black Friday deal on the G72, but Staples' configuration includes a much better processor, more memory and a larger hard drive. Other good tech deals at Staples include a Western Digital 2TB external drive for $99.99, the TomTom XL 540S GPS for $89.99 and the Flip UltraHD pocket camcorder for $99.99.

Costco Costco has several online-only Black Friday deals that last through early December. The Dell Studio 15 is $599.99 with a 2.26GHz Intel Core i3-350M dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, 500GB hard drive and DVD. The larger dv7t, with a 17-inch display, is available in an $899.99 bundle with a wireless printer. The system has a 2.53GHz Core i5-460M, 6GB of memory, a 640GB hard drive and a DVD burner.

Black Friday sites:

More coverage of PCs and gadgets for the holidays:

Topics: Hewlett-Packard, Hardware, Laptops, Mobility, Processors

About

John Morris is a former executive editor at CNET Networks and senior editor at PC Magazine. He now works for a private investment firm, which may at any time invest in companies whose products are discussed in this blog, and no disclosure of securities transactions will be made. No investment advice is offered in this blog. All duties are... Full Bio

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