Black Friday Predictions for 2008 from GottaDeal.com, Web's Largest Black Friday Site

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Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com, the largest and most popular Black Friday web site has released its exclusive predictions for Black Friday. Predictions include which items are forecasted to be the hottest as well as price predictions for some of the more popular items such as HDTVs and computers.

LCD HDTVs will be had for $349-399 and 37

Having covered Black Friday extensively for the past five years, we at GottaDeal.com are in a better position than pretty much anyone else to offer predictions for this year. Over the years we've noticed trends in the deals offered by the major retailers and can offer a glimpse into what we believe will be the 2008 Black Friday deals and hot items.

HDTVs:
While HDTVs have been popular Black Friday items in the past few years, we expect that this holiday season will be the tipping point for HDTV purchases by the average consumer. Prices have dropped this year more than any previous year, and with the digital TV transition happening in a few months, a large part of the general public is looking to get a new HDTV, and this Black Friday should provide an amazing number of deals.

With HDTVs, there is a very large amount on variation in quality. In many cases, the lowest-priced models on Black Friday are stripped-down models made exclusively for that retailer's sale. In many cases they lack features and the quality components used to manufacture higher priced models. That doesn't necessarily mean that these deals aren't great - it's just a case of buyer beware. You should not expect $2,000 performance from a $500 HDTV.

The two primary types of flat panel HDTVs in the Black Friday ads will be LCD and Plasma. Plasma HDTVs tend to be cheaper going by cost per inch, but that is not always the case as there are some very high-end, highly rated plasma models out there. The maximum resolution of an HDTV is also something that you'll see in the ads. Most HDTVs will either be 1080p or 720p. These numbers represent the maximum lines of horizontal resolution that the TV can display at once. 1080p is the native resolution for things like Blu-ray, some video games and other sources, and being higher resolution means that these models will cost more.

On to price predictions. We fully expect to see 42" plasma and HDTVs in the $499 range this year. During the last few months on GottaDeal.com, we've posted deals for 42" HDTVs for under $700 in a few cases, so it's completely realistic to expect at least one retailer to have a deal under $500 on such a model. These cheaper HDTVs will likely be 720p and will lack features found in more expensive models. We expect prices on 50" plasma and LCD HDTVs to also fall this Black Friday, perhaps to somewhere around $699-749.

Stepping up to the full 1080p resolution will cost a little bit more, but in most cases it will be worth the extra cost when you factor in how long you will be using this HDTV and how most sources in the future (television, movies, video games) will be in native 1080p resolution. On GottaDeal.com we've posted 42" 1080p LCD HDTVs for under $800 recently, so it would not surprise us to see a 42" 1080p LCD HDTV in Black Friday ads for $599. 46" and 50" versions should be available for around $749 and $999 respectively.

Deals on smaller HDTVs (and standard TVs with the new digital tuners) will also be plentiful this year. 32" LCD HDTVs will be had for $349-399 and 37" models will be $499 or less. For those looking to replace smaller bedroom TVs with HDTVs, expect great deals on both smaller LCD HDTVs as well as standard tube TVs that now include the new digital ATSC tuners. Stores these days tend to not stock as many of these because of size constraints, but they will often make one-time purchases for Black Friday, so expect something like a 20" TV with digital tuner in the $79-99 range.

While Black Friday is a great time to buy the loss-leader, lower-end HDTVs, if you are looking for a deal on a higher quality, name-brand HDTV, the best time to buy is typically in early to mid-December as retailers ramp up the deals to get those last minute sales before the holidays. And even if you miss those deals, the pre-Super Bowl TV deals are also very attractive.

Laptops and Desktops:
One of the biggest hot Black Friday ad items traditionally has been the ultra-cheap laptop. However times have changed drastically in the last few years. Back in 2005, the thought of a $399 laptop made grown men drool with anticipation. However as component and manufacturing costs have dropped, it's not all that uncommon to see a $399 laptop in a Sunday ad any week of the year, or offered at online retailers such as Dell.

The recent surge in popularity of a new wave of "netbooks" - stripped down, mini laptops with 7-10" screens - has also had a big impact on the overall laptop market and the deals we can expect on Black Friday this year. Desktop computers, while still popular, are not as "sexy" as they've been in the past. They have become almost disposable because of price drops and the fact that it doesn't take much in terms of features to handle what 99% of the general public uses a desktop for in their daily lives.

If you are considering purchasing a laptop on Black Friday this year, we can't stress enough how important it is to decide what features you need and what you will be using the laptop for. There will be cheap laptops, but if they don't fit your needs, as good of a deal they may seem on the surface, you will end up disappointed soon after you purchase it. Questions to consider: what size screen do you need? Is weight an important factor? What about battery life? Do you need to be able to burn DVDs on the laptop? Some parts of the laptop (such as RAM memory) can always be upgraded later on, but other components such as screen size, battery life and processor are usually permanent.

The "classic" Black Friday laptop the last few years has had a 15.4" widescreen LCD display, a low-level dual-core processor, 2GB of memory, 160GB hard drive and usually a combo CD-RW/DVD drive, along with standard features such as WiFi, modem and ethernet port. Laptops like these have been available all year long from retailers such as Best Buy, Circuit City and Staples for as low as $399. Therefore we predict we'll see this level of laptop in Black Friday ads for around $299 this year. We'll also predict an upgraded model with a faster Core 2 Duo processor, 3-4GB of RAM, DVD burner and larger hard drive for $399, and maybe less.

As for the new "netbooks", we expect those to also be discounted on Black Friday, as retailers will use the ultra-low prices to "shock" the average consumer who wasn't aware that these laptops even existed. We've posted deals on GottaDeal.com during the year for these netbooks for as low as $199. As with regular laptops, these mini machines vary greatly in specs and features. We expect to see the cheapest of these netbooks for around $149 this Black Friday, but there will be deals on models with better features. Realize that these are not meant to be your primary machine. They are great for light tasks such as web browsing and e-mail, but the small screen size and smaller keyboard make long-term use uncomfortable.

Desktop computers will continue to sell, however we're reaching the point of diminishing returns as any budget desktop bought last Black Friday will be just as good as most advertised this year. For 99% of daily tasks (internet, e-mail, homework, office work), it doesn't take more than a low-end desktop to handle these tasks. This year we expect a mid-level desktop (dual core processor, 2GB of RAM, 320GB hard drive, DVD burner) bundled with a 19" or 20" LCD monitor to be in the $299 range. Upgrade to a faster processor, more RAM, bigger hard drive and a 22" monitor for $100 more.

We predict computer peripherals to be hotter this year than in previous years. Expect hot deals on LCD monitors - we are expecting 19" monitors for $69-79 and 22" models for possibly as low as $99. 24" models should be around $199 as well. With Blu-ray being the next-generation format winner, we expect some nice deals on both internal and external Blu-ray drives for PCs. Expect internal drives for $99 and external for $149. As with every Black Friday, expect a lot of deals on things like external hard drives, flash drives and mice/keyboard sets. These items always sell well on Black Friday and we expect those trends to continue this year.

GPS Systems:
GPS navigation systems were huge last year during Black Friday and we expect much of the same this year. There hasn't been much new innovation since last year, but prices have continued to drop as new models have been released. Garmin and TomTom have been the cream of the crop as far as sales and popularity this past year, with brands such as Magellan, Navigon and Nextar in the next class. We've posted deals all year on GottaDeal.com for GPS systems below $100. We expect to see a budget GPS system with 3.5" LCD display for $49 this year, and more name-brand, feature-loaded models for under $100.

With GPS systems, we recommend reading as many reviews as possible from current owners before choosing a model. You'll also want to investigate if it is possible to update the maps on the device, and what that will cost you. Many of the budget, no-name models will not have this ability. With GPS systems, we firmly believe that if you are willing to pay an extra $50-75, you can get a lot more features and you'll be much happier with your purchase down the line.

Audio & Video:
Since last Black Friday, Blu-ray has won the next-generation format war over HD-DVD, and therefore we expect some nice deals on Blu-ray players and movies on Black Friday. Recent comments from the Blu-ray industry leaders indicated that while prices won't be slashed dramatically, we fully expect Blu-ray players to appear in at least one Black Friday ad for $149. Buy 1 Get 1 Free deals on Blu-ray movies are also predicted to help speed up the adoption of this new media format.

Along with Blu-ray, home theater systems will also be popular as retailers attempt to get those consumers who are purchasing a new HDTV to make it a complete home theater by adding a receiver and speakers. Budget 5.1 channel home theater systems should be listed in Black Friday ads for as low as $49.00. Add an integrated DVD player for $69. As with most electronics, you get what you pay for with these systems. In most cases you are better off using the built-in speakers in your TV instead of buying one of these cheap home theater systems.

iPods and MP3 players are always a hot seller on Black Friday. Apple recently introduced new versions of their popular iPods. In most cases, retailers cannot advertise iPods at prices lower than the standard MSRP, so expect to see promotions such as free accessories, free iTunes cards or free store gift cards with the purchase of these music players. Accessories for iPods are also expected to see big price cuts. This includes items such as alarm clocks, docking speaker systems, automotive accessories, cases and headphones. Deals on MP3 players from manufacturers such as SanDisk, Creative, Archos, Samsung, Sony and others should be attractive as they continue their futile attempt to gain market share from Apple.

Cameras, Camcorders & Digital Frames:
While a few years ago digital cameras were a huge Black Friday item, these days nearly everyone has one and so it takes more than just a cheap price to get people to open their wallets. As one of the most popular online deal sites, we believe digital camera deals are usually better during the year than they are on Black Friday. While going through the ads each year, we always notice cameras on "sale" for prices much more than they can be ordered online. So if you are considering a digital camera, we suggest you follow our online deals instead of relying on Black Friday.

Digital camcorders are becoming a little more popular as features are added and both prices and sizes are reduced. The new wave of compact HD-capable camcorders are very popular, but we expect prices to keep them from being a big hit this year. Next year, however, we expect HD camcorders to be a huge Black Friday seller once prices have dropped. You can expect to see entry-level, no-name HD camcorders in Black Friday ads this year for around $99, but we'd strongly advise against getting one of these cheaper models as the quality will not be acceptable. Standard MiniDV camcorders will be in the ads starting at around $129 for name-brand models, and those would be a better choice until name-brand HD camcorder prices drop.

Digital picture frames hit mainstream last year and it seemed like every store had at least one in their ad, regardless of if they were an electronics store or not. Prices on these have fallen drastically as well. We've posted deals on GottaDeal.com during the last few months for under $30 for digital frames. In the ads this year we expect 5" frames for $20, 7" frames for $30 and 10" frames for $60. The matching digital photo viewer keychains will also be advertised, probably for as low as $5. Again with these, you get what you pay for.

Online Black Friday Deals:
We can't stress enough that to get the best deals on Black Friday or any other day of the year, you have to check online first. At GottaDeal.com we post hundreds of new online deals each week and our forum members post even more every day on the message boards. On Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com, we'll have a continuously updated list of Black Friday ad items that can be purchased online at Black Friday prices. We urge our visitors to order as many ad items as possible online before leaving the house. It'll save you time, hassle and space in your trunk.

We do expect online retailers to continue to offer amazing deals this quarter as well as they compete with the brick and mortar retailers. Expect big sales and online-only coupons from retailers such as Amazon.com, Overstock.com, RedTag.com, SmartBargains.com, DeepDiscount.com, ShoeBuy.com and many, many others. And to keep track of these deals, just bookmark our home page at GottaDeal.com where we'll keep you updated on the latest deals throughout the day, every day of the year.

For more information, please visit Black Friday @ GottaDeal.com

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