Netbooks making laptops cheaper, gaining favor with older users

Over the past few years computer manufacturers have fully embraced the netbook, churning out innovative designs, low cost computers and even adding long battery life and HD video viewing on some models.

While netbooks still aren't for everyone they have had an effect on the laptop market that everyone, except computer manufacturers, can be happy about -- they've cut the cost of laptops in half including many in our Best Computer Deals of 2010 roundup.

A new study from PriceGrabber analyzed the average price of laptops from December 2006 through this past holiday season and found that the price had dropped from more than $1,000 to the current $600 price-point that many laptop hunters look for when they want a basic laptop.

This downward shift in laptop pricing is simply a reflection of the fact that most computer users do not need an incredibly powerful machine; which sits in stark contrast to the power hungry desktop days when people measured the worth of their computer by how many GHz it had with little regard for anything else -- or the fact that you can send an e-mail with half that power.

Thanks to the cheaper prices, and tighter wallets, only 35% of respondents plan to spend more than $750 on their next computer device, compared to 52% who had spent more than $750 on their last device.

Finally, as the displays and resolutions of netbooks increased in size and quality and the keyboards began to accommodate hands that didn't belong to 12-year-olds a shift in who purchased netbooks occurred.

No longer are the majority of netbook owners in the 35-54 age group. Instead these small devices have become more popular with those aged 45 to 64. Whether this part of netbook owning population is using it for work travel, sitting on the couch or for connectivity at their winter home in Florida is unknown but these individuals do make up a third of all netbook owners.

Even if you don't own a netbook and never will, take a minute and thank the next person you see with a netbook -- they just saved you $600 on your next laptop purchase.
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