Digital Crave

There’s never been a better time to buy a laptop

Ivy Bridge 15" Core i5Recent havoc in the laptop industry means outstanding summer deals for consumers. How outstanding? Try Black Friday-like prices. Analysts are blaming Windows 8 for the lull in laptop sales, which will likely give tablet sales enough of an upper hand to surpass notebook shipments later this year.

“Windows 8 was supposed to give them a jump-start, but Redmond's new operating system turned out to be worse than Vista. In fact, analysts are now blaming Windows 8 for the lull in sales, Even the mighty Intel can't save the laptop industry,” says Dealnews.

They’re predicting record-breaking laptop deals, especially with back-to-school sales surfacing each week. So there's never been a better time to pounce on a deal. Prices are currently in the $350 range – and have gone as low as $299 – for an Ivy Bridge 15" Core i5-based system with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive. So anything you find at or below $299 is an Editors' Choice-worthy deal.

Here’s some shopping tools – and a few deals – to help you navigate your laptop shopping.

1. Windows 8 Didn't Live Up to the Hype
“Despite all the fanfare, Windows 8 failed to live up to the hype. Yes, Microsoft sold over 100 million licenses of its shiny new OS, but Windows 8 didn't ignite sales. It also received an unprecedented amount of negative feedback, and it simply didn't sit well with consumers. Sales were so bad that Microsoft cut licensing costs for its partners.”

Microsoft's forthcoming OS update is expected to address many concerns, but it's still unlikely to give laptop sales a significant boost. Now that they’re on the mend, Microsoft and big-box retailers want your business. Low prices are their best tool. You can save $439 off the Dell Inspiron 14z Ultrabook, 3rd Gen Intel Core i7-3517U Processor. Now only $749.99 + free shipping at Dell.

Printer deals2. Back to School Sales Will Last Through the Summer
“Dealnews data has consistently shown that the summer is the second-best time of year to buy a new laptop.” These deals have come close to the famed Black Friday deals.

Last summer saw a high number of laptop bundles that combined a mainstream 15" notebook with a gaming console, a gift card, or even an inkjet printer. These combos don't always require purchasers to be students. The months of August and September tend to see the best deals with bundles that include everything from an Xbox 360 to a $100 Amazon gift card.

“Because PC sales are particularly bad this year, we wouldn't be surprised to see solid bundles throughout the summer, so if you want to get the most value from your purchase, we recommend waiting for the right back-to-school bundle.”

3. There's a New CPU Sheriff in Town
Intel's new Haswell chips are poised to take over the market. They offer better battery life and video performance than Intel's 2012 Ivy Bridge processors, which means consumers can see some deep discounts on laptops that use Intel's older chips.

Ivy Bridge Processor“As of June, prices were already in the $350 range for a mainstream 15" Ivy Bridge notebook (with a Core i5 CPU, 4GB RAM, and at least 500GB of storage), which is the second-lowest price of the year. While there are some benefits to having a newer CPU under your laptop's hood, the performance increase isn't dramatic. For everyday computing, high-def media streaming, and even light gaming, an Ivy Bridge-based laptop still offers more than enough horsepower.”

How can you tell if a laptop has an Ivy Bridge processor inside? Look at the string of numbers after the processor name. For instance, the "4" in Core i7-4650U signifies a 4th generation Haswell chip, whereas the "3" in Core i7-3537U signifies last year's Ivy Bridge chip.

4. AMD's New CPUs Have Budget Shoppers in Mind
Intel is not only competing with itself via previous-generation processors, they’re also competing with AMD's new processors. “Codenamed Temash, Kabini, and Richland, AMD's new chips were designed for tablets/hybrids, mainstream systems, and premium laptops, respectively. Although they haven't been officially tested, the editors at Notebook Review were impressed by the new processors' battery life during their initial evaluation. Intel has a comfortable lead over AMD when it comes to processor market share, but with laptop shipments down and competition lurking around every corner, every bit counts. So competition from AMD, albeit far from threatening, will help keep laptop prices low.”

Apple5. Tablets Are All the Rage
It’s been three years since Apple introduced the first iPad. The market they created in that short time has exploded. Tablet shipments are poised to surpass laptop sales for the first time in history. Dealnews predicts that by 2017, tablets will outsell notebooks six to one.

“Tablets have decimated the laptop industry leading to the worst PC sales ever, which in turn has led to some of the best laptop deals ever. As tablets continue to push laptops out of the market and Intel continues looking for new form factors, you can expect the cheap laptop prices to continue.”

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