Year of the Netbooks

Laptops, big-screen TVs slimming down

We still gotta get our gadgets, but the recession has soured our tastes for some high-tech wares and sweetened them for others

With shrinking budgets, laptop computers are shrinking to no-frills, relatively inexpensive models.

Andrew Liedholm with Best Buy in San Diego said that late summer is an important time of year in the electronics business.

"Back-to-school shopping time is very important for Best Buy," Liedholm said.

Liedholm said laptops are still selling but added that many students are looking at smaller "netbook" computers. 

"It's made for mainly browsing the Internet and just doing basic simple tasks," Liedholm said. "But the size and price point of those is really good for people with the economy today." 

Most of the Netbooks don't have CD or DVD players, and many are priced at or below $500.

Jim Barry with the Consumer Electronics Association said sales are down 7.5 percent from last year, and the prices on the shelf are showing it.

"Prices are down -- they're down depending on what type of set you look at," Barry said, "Plasma and LCDs are down double digit percentages since last year."

Elsewhere in the consumer-electronics world, big-screen TVs are still selling, but consumers are buying cheaper, smaller sets.

Barry said that many people are rethinking the size of TV sets they're buying. He said 50-inch plasma screens and LCD sets were very popular a few years ago, now many people are opting for 32- and 36-inch sets. 

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