The Best Time to Buy CES 2013 Electronics

This post by Louis Ramirez comes from partner site dealnews

The biggest tech trade show in the industry is coming to a close right now in the cavernous hallways of the Las Vegas Convention Center.

CES isn’t just about new product announcements; it’s also the start of a new season of deals. Immediately after the show you’ll see new cuts on last year’s technology, and soon after you’ll begin seeing discounts on the latest gadgets as well.

But how long must you wait before 2013′s most anticipated devices go on sale? To find out, we turned back the clock to CES 2012 and tracked a few product announcements from last year’s show to see how long it took them to make their dealnews debut.

Laptops and Ultrabooks

Every year, hundreds of laptops make their glittering debut on the showroom floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Last year, HP’s glass-covered 14-inch Spectre Ultrabook was among the biggest announcements, commanding a price of $1,400. Four months later, we listed the Sceptre on dealnews for $1,099, or 22 percent off. Following our June mention, the Spectre dropped in price again in October when we listed it at $999, or 29 percent off.

Likewise, the Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook was also announced at CES 2012 and was released shortly thereafter in February. However, this ultra-thin laptop didn’t see any deals until late September when we listed it for $900 (10 percent off). That’s a whopping eight months after its debut.

Bottom line: 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. As a result, penny pinchers might want to bypass trendy CES laptops and instead look for solid deals on last year’s models, many of which will pack similar specs as the newer laptops, albeit in a less glossy chassis or sans a touchscreen.

Gaming

One of the biggest stories to come out of CES 2013 is NVIDIA’s foray into the hardware market. Project Shield is a 5-inch Android-based portable gaming console running on NVIDIA’s new Tegra 4 chip. The device is slated to debut in Q2 of 2013, and while there’s no mention of price, we expect this console to see a healthy amount of promotions even before it’s released.

Why such a bold prediction? When Sony first announced its PlayStation Vita at E3 in June of 2011, the retail price for the gaming handheld was set at $249. Months later, we began seeing Vita pre-order deals, many of which came bundled with a $20 gift card. Sony then showed off the Vita at CES in January 2012, and by the time it was officially released in February, it took just three weeks for us to see the first Vita discount when we listed it for $235 (6 percent off). The following month we saw used Vita deals selling for $162, and in September we saw the Vita at $207 (17 percent off).

Bottom line: We think it’s likely that we’ll see pre-order deals for NVIDIA’s Project Shield days before its release. For dollar-off discounts, expect to wait about a month into the handheld’s life cycle.

Smartphones

Although CES isn’t where most manufacturers make their smartphone announcements, the show has managed to see a handful of important debuts in previous years. Just last year, for instance, Nokia and Microsoft unveiled the Nokia Lumia 900. The phone was officially released on April 8 for $99 (with a two-year contract on AT&T); however, pre-orders for this phone hit $0 the week before its release. That’s right, this phone hit $0 before it even came out. Another major CES phone debut came from Palm when it announced the now-defunct Palm Pre back at CES 2009. The phone was released on the Sprint network in June for $199, and we listed our first deal on that phone on July 31 for $170 (15 percent off). Three days later it dropped to $99 (50 percent off).

Bottom line: As we’ve seen before, finding deals on new smartphones doesn’t take long. If you have your eye on a new smartphone from CES, your best bet is to wait a few weeks as chances are high you’ll see some sort of discount soon after its debut.

HDTVs

HDTVs have become the meat and potatoes of CES. To get an idea of HDTV price trends, we tracked the Samsung UN40EH6000 40-inch 1080p LCD HDTV from its debut last year. It was released in February 2012 for the retail price of $849, and by March 21, we had listed our first deal for $699 (17 percent off). It took another three months for the price to drop down to $589 (31 percent off). Meanwhile, 2012′s Panasonic TC-P50GT50 VIERA 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV debuted in March for $1,799 but didn’t see a deal until late June for $1,250 (31 percent off).

Bottom line: The deal cycle of an HDTV is less predictable, as evidenced by the two examples above. That said, if you wait at least a month after a TV’s release, you might see a respectable dollar-off discount. But ultimately, we recommend looking at the previous year’s model, which will be much cheaper and most likely perform just as well as the new model (minus a few new features).

The best time to buy CES electronics

While you’ll certainly see better deals on CES 2013 electronics the longer they age in their product cycle, you can still snag an initial deal with a little patience. If you’re really set on a new gadget from this year’s CES, we recommend waiting at least a month, because chances are high that it’ll see some sort of discount or promotion. But these deals won’t last forever, so it’s important to sign up for an email alert now, so you’ll know as soon as we find a discount on the item of your choice.

Sign up for our free newsletter

Like this article? Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you a regular digest of our newest stories, full of money saving tips and advice, free! We'll also email you a PDF of Stacy Johnson's '205 Ways to Save Money' as soon as you've subscribed. It's full of great tips that'll help you save a ton of extra cash. It doesn't cost a dime, so why wait? Click here to sign up now.

The fast, free way to stay on top of your money.

If you’re not using online money management, it’s time to start.

Click here to find out more.

Money Talks News has teamed with PowerWallet for a free, confidential way to track your expenses, set budgets and goals, get bill reminders and earn free customized coupons.

Take a minute right now and check out PowerWallet. It's the simple way to get a handle on your money.

Comments & discussion

We welcome your opinions, but let’s keep it civil. Like many businesses, we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. In our case, that means those who communicate by name-calling, racism, using words designed to hurt others or generally acting like an uninformed bully. Also, comments that include links to email addresses or commercial websites typically aren't posted. This isn't a place to advertise your business.