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High-tech not high priced

There’s good news for holiday shoppers who have spent previous yearswaiting in hours-long lineups, making frantic calls to stores, andbeing extorted by profiteering gadget scalpers while searching for thatmust-have gift.

There’s good news for holiday shoppers who have spent previous years waiting in hours-long lineups, making frantic calls to stores, and being extorted by profiteering gadget scalpers while searching for that must-have gift.

It appears there is no Nintendo Wii or Wii Fit, limited supply iPhone, or other tech toys this year that are expected to be overwhelmingly in demand and impossible to find in stores.

The most buzzed about tech product this shopping season may be the Kindle ebook reader, but Amazon says it doesn’t expect to run out of stock.

Maybe demand is down because of the recession, or maybe it’s the fact that today’s massive big-box stores are lined with dozens of rows of gadgets, games, peripherals and electronics, offering endless options for shoppers in virtually every price range.

According to research commissioned by Future Shop, if consumers could choose the thing they’d most like to receive this holiday season, they’d pick a big-screen HDTV.

A new TV is probably too rich for the blood of most shoppers, but Future Shop spokesman Elliott Chun said Canadians have indicated in the past that they’re willing to spend several hundred dollars for a cool gift.

The company is expecting that the cheapest version of Sony’s Playstation 3, the 120-gigabyte slim model selling for $299, will be one of the hottest items this Christmas, despite its “mid-range” price.

“I don’t think people will balk too much at that price point,” Chun said, nothing that in a survey last year, Canadians said they were planning to spend about $279 on a high-tech gift, while men specifically were willing to spend a little more, around $340.

Derek Szeto of Redflagdeals.com, a deal-hunting web community with 270,000 members, suggests netbooks may be one of the hottest gift ideas for someone looking to spend a couple hundred dollars or more. The popularity of the low-cost, low-weight laptop computers has exploded in recent months, especially as models began appearing on store shelves with prices as low $199.

“The price points have gotten sort of ridiculously low, it just makes it really easy for consumers to make it an impulse purchase,” Szeto said. “It’s almost like if you drop it and break it you can just replace it.”

In the sub-$100 price range, Future Shop is expecting video games and Blu-ray movies will be big sellers, especially for households that just recently upgraded to the new video format from DVD. Recent legislation in Ontario banning the use of cellphones while driving are also expected to spur sales of hands-free devices like Bluetooth headsets. Szeto predicted shoppers will still spend a lot of money this year but will look for ways to stretch their dollar.

 
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