With the 2008 holiday season fast approaching, the time for buying a new PC for a special someone is here, and it's no secret that there are an impressive number of new laptops on the market for smart shoppers.
While there are a number of notebook PCs on the market already, including several new offerings from Dell, Toshiba, Hewlett-Packard and Gateway, the hottest sellers this holiday season are likely to be the new Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro.
Apple, which has watched its share of the U.S. PC market increase steadily in the past two years, launched the new aluminum MacBook and MacBook Pro in October, and these two entries into the Mac lineup are expected to turn into big sellers in 2008, according to the NPD Group.
"Despite the downturn in the economy, notebook sales, at least through October, have held up better than almost any other category of electronics," said Steve Baker, an analyst with the NPD Group. "For consumers, Apple continues to do well, and MacBooks continue to do well."
For those not willing to shell out a premium price for a new MacBook-the aluminum MacBooks released earlier this year start at $1,299-there are a number of more modestly priced notebook PCs from a number of the major vendors.
The NPD Group data suggests that most buyers are looking for a standard notebook-average price: $680-with a 15- or 16-inch screen that weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. In that category, Acer, Toshiba, HP, Dell and a number of other vendors have several new models with varying features.
While consumers are moving toward notebooks, there are still deals when it comes to traditional desktop PCs for home use. Right now, the average desktop using Microsoft Windows is selling for between $550 and $570, and these desktops include between 500GB and 750GB of data storage.
For those seeking a desktop on the cutting edge, Dell is offering a new PC-the Studio XPS desktop-that is one of the first PCs to use Intel's Core i7 microprocessor. At the launch, Dell is offering the XPS Studio for $949 without a display and $1,099 with a 19-inch monitor.
The other types of PCs that consumers might want to look at are the so-called "netbooks" or ultraportable laptops that use some combination of an Intel Atom processor or an older Celeron chip.
Baker believes that most consumers will stay away from these types of laptops this holiday season. However, John Spooner, an analyst with Technology Business Research, believes that netbooks and ultraportable PCs such as the Acer Aspire One, the Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and the HP Mini 1000 might appeal to cost-conscious consumers.
These types of low-cost, ultramobile notebooks start as low as $350.
"Given the current economy, I think this holiday season is all netbooks all the time," said Spooner.