CES 2013 closed with a bang — more than 150,000 people attended the U.S. consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, a new attendance record. But how long will it take for the just-announced products to get to stores, and more importantly, when might electronics aficionados see price cuts?
Keep in mind that some of the more-spectacular technological offerings are still just prototypes — such as LG’s 55-inch curved OLED TV and Panasonic’s made-for-giants 20-inch tablet — and may never make it to market.
Meanwhile, other items, such as Samsung’s glorious 110-inch Ultra HD TV that will likely cost more than $25,000, would remain beyond the reach of most Americans even at half that price.
But there are plenty of products poised to land on store shelves over the next several months. Laptops, smartphones and HDTVs may get discounted, but some product categories tend to see price cuts sooner than others.
“Unfortunately, it appears as if the flashy laptop stars of CES take a long time before they receive any discounts, ranging from four to nine months,” said Louis Ramirez, a writer for DealNews.com. “As a result, penny pinchers might want to bypass trendy CES laptops and instead look for solid deals on last year’s models.”
When buying those older models, you’ll miss out on higher-resolution displays and touchscreens. If you can wait until late summer, though, when many new laptops get discounted during back-to-school season, watch for Vizio’s 14- and 15.6-inch Thin + Light Touch laptops, which are expected this spring. Each has a 2.3-GHz quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD and better battery life than last year’s seven-hour units. (Prices were not announced.)
Smartphones get discounted sooner than other electronics. However, you’ll have to wait another two months or so for most smartphone launch announcements, which typically happen at the end of February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
The exception was Sony’s Xperia Z smartphone, which caused a literal splash. This new phone can stream music underwater and features a 13-megapixel camera, 5-inch full HD display and a quad-core processor. The Xperia Z was voted the best smartphone of CES 2013 by TopTenREVIEWS’ sister site, LAPTOP Magazine. The phone will launch Feb. 28.
“Finding deals on new smartphones doesn’t take long,” Ramirez said. “Your best bet is to wait a few weeks, as chances are high you’ll see some sort of discount soon after its debut.”
The deal cycle for HDTVs are less predictable, but DealNews has encouraging news based on last year’s sales.
For instance, Panasonic released a Viera 50-inch, 3D plasma TV in March 2011 for $1,799, and by June, the price had dropped 31 percent to $1,250.
Keep an eye on Westinghouse, too, which announced Roku-ready LED TVs. In these devices, the $99 Roku USB stock provides the Internet connection, which should mean a lower price on these HDTVs.
Further, since Westinghouse doesn’t run with the big boys like Samsung and Sony, discounts may happen earlier in the year than on new models from better-known TV manufacturers.
When it comes to the dizzying array of monstrous 4K and Ultra HD TVs, it will be years before prices become accessible and content is produced in the new, higher-resolution formats. And this category may get a little tricky.
Remember the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD? At the beginning of 2006, the two were fairly evenly supported by manufacturers, but in 2008, Toshiba gave up on HD DVD and it was Blu-ray all the way. A similar conflict is brewing within the new double-resolution format, which is why some manufacturers call it Ultra HD and others say 4K.
While the pixel difference between the two is relatively small, at some point it could cause problems. A 4K display has 4,096 pixels across, while Ultra HD has 3,840. Content will be made one way only. If the industry makes movies for 4K, those who bought an Ultra HD TV will miss action along the edges of the screen. If the studios side with Ultra HD, those with 4K sets will see black at the sides. And while that may not seem so bad, if you’ve paid thousands for an exotic TV, it should be perfect.
My advice is to wait until content producers decide on a format — and really, don’t you have something better to do with $20,000?
Ogden-based TopTenREVIEWS.com guides consumers by comparing products in the world of technology, including electronics, software and Web services. Have a question for TopTenREVIEWS? Email Leslie Meredith at email@example.com.