We hunt down the best laptop deals available in the January Sales
Judging by the TV news, for some people no festive season is complete without an early morning Boxing Day trip to the local mall in order to grab a bargain. Indeed, the so-called January Sales often start before Christmas these days, as retailers sell off stock and try to stimulate business in a traditionally quiet period.
There are laptop bargains to be had, so we took a look at several key retailers to see what laptop deals are on offer. We also point out where a 'sale' price, is not so great.
January sales laptop deals: Dixons, PC World, Currys
Let's start with the UK's biggest high-street technology retailer. Dixons Stores Groups is offering up to £200 off selected laptops and tablets, and is definitely worth a look. You can access the PC World sale online.
The deals are pretty good, although there are fewer than you might expect, and in some cases you have to order to pick up in store. And to grab a bargain it pays to know what you are looking for, specs wise. This HP Pavilion g6 with Core i5 chip, Windows 8 and 6GB RAM - as well as a 1TB hard drive - is a snip at just under £400, for instance. Definitely take that over the £50 g6 with an AMD chip.
We like this Samsung Series 3 model, too. It's a bit more expensive and has a smaller hard drive, but Samsung does make stylish laptops.
And PC World offers that almost unheard of thing - a bargain Apple laptop. The base-model 13in MacBook Pro it is selling at £999 - the Z0MT2B/A - is available on the Apple.com/uk site at the same price, but with 250GB less storage (see Apple MacBook Pro 13in with Retina display review). Worth checking out if you are in the market for a MacBook, although you can't change the spec in the same way as you can when buying from Apple. See also: Group test: what's the best high-end laptop?
Laptop bargains: department stores
So that's DSG taken care of. We took a look at a couple of department stores, to find out what laptop deals they have to offer in this year's January sales.
Jaunary sales laptop deals: John Lewis
Despite its 'never knowingly undersold' mantra, John Lewis is where I shop when I don't mind paying a little more, but I want to ensure great service. The John Lewis laptop 'sale' illustrates this perfectly - it's not that the offers aren't good, but they are toward the top of the scale - we wouldn't be in a rush to buy this Sony Vaio with Windows 7 for £850, for instance. Indeed, the only two laptops we could find for less than £500 were out of stock when we checked.
No matter. For those hunting down a better class of bargain, there are good deals be had. But they generally take the form of cashback on otherwise unremarkable deals, or money off expensive Ultrabooks.
£999 is the list price for the HP Spectre XT 13-2110EA Ultrabook, and that is what John Lewis charges - but in the sale you get £100 cashback. And whilst saving £100 on the Samsung NP530U3C-A0A Ultrabook may seem like a great deal, its £599 sale price is matched elsewhere by PC World amongst others (not in the sale).
So it is definitely worth checking out John Lewis, but you are still paying for a high level of service. See also: Group test: what's the best budget laptop?
January sales laptop deals: Littlewoods
Littlewoods has its own January sale on laptops, selling 20 discounted portable PCs. You can pick up a 17in HP Pavilion G7 for £499, for instance, which is a decent price for a large laptop with 6GB RAM... but not a staggering bargain. Indeed, Littlewoods is selling the same HP Pavilion G6 that PC World has at £399, for £499.
The only conceivable benefit to be gained by buying from the Littlewoods sale is the fact that you can pay for your purchase interest free, over a long period of time.
Laptop bargains: Supermarkets
These days supermarkets sell laptops and PCs alongside other goods. But how do the supermarkets shape up when it comes to laptop bargains in the January sales?
January sales laptop deals: Tesco
At the other end of the scale to John Lewis is Tesco - the pile 'em high, flog 'em cheap master of cornering every market is a major laptop reseller these days. And in the Tesco laptop January sale you can choose from 10 laptop deals. These range in price from £399 to more than £1,100, offering discounts that range from just a few pounds to more than £500.
That eye-catching deal is for the HP DV6-6C57 - a 15in Core i3 laptop with 6GB RAM and a 750GB hard drive. It still costs £624 and that seems, well, no better than reasonable to us. You can pick up a refurbished Core i3 DV6 for around £400 if you shop around, which seems like a more sensible price.
The next biggest 'deal' is £100 off the Acer Aspire S3-391. But that again means the Tesco sale price is more in line with what other retailers are charging - Tesco sells it for £549, and prices online range from £499 to £599.
As a laptop reseller during the January sales Tesco makes a great supermarket.
January sales laptop deals: Sainsbury's
Sainsbury's has a much smaller tech sale, but it contains a couple of decent deals. The Medion Akoya S4209 for less than £400 is a good deal, even though the Intel Pentium chip is nothing to write home about. The Core i5-toting Acer E1 for £399 is a great deal. Well worth checking out before it returns to its nominal price of £799 in February.
Laptop bargains: Online tech resellers
So that's what Dixons, the supermarkets and the department stores can do in terms of laptop deals. Let's quickly check out a couple of online tech specialists, so see what kind off laptop bargains they can offer.
Jaunary sales laptop deals: Dabs
BT-owned tech retail giant Dabs has some decent, but not staggering, laptop deals on its January sale. The Lenovo G580 at £379 is a good case in point. That's a pretty solid deal for a major-name Core i3 laptop, especially when free delivery is thrown in, but it's matched by plenty of other online retailers. Still, deals move quickly on Dabs, so it is worth keeping an eye on the sale.
January sales laptop deals: laptopsdirect
One site always worth checking out is Save On Laptops, aka laptopsdirect. In its sale it beats even Sainsbury's, selling the Acer E1 for just £379. And Dabs loses out too, as laptopsdirect sells a Core i3 version of Dabs' £379 Lenovo G580 for just £377.