Tablets Overtaking Laptops As Hottest Item This Christmas

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U.S. consumers plan to spend over 33% more on CE devices this holiday season compared to last year with the total amount increasing from $793 per household in 2011 to $1 058 in 2012.

A survey of 2,500 U.S. broadband households by Parks Associates, found 63% of households plan to make a CE purchase, a 37% increase over last year. Tablets and smartphones are the hottest items, and consumers express the greatest preferences for the Apple iPad and iPhone.

"Twenty-six percent of U.S. consumers intend to spend more on CE, the best rate since 2008," said John Barrett, director, Consumer Analytics, Parks Associates. "For the first time, more U.S. households plan to purchase a tablet than a laptop, netbook, or Ultrabook computer."

Parks Associates finds consumers want a device that offers both advanced features and portability but have yet to find the product that perfectly blends the benefits of laptops and tablets. Consumers who are 25-34, earn $75,000-$100,000 annually, or already own a tablet or multiple desktops/laptops are most likely to consider tablets as laptop substitutes.

"The introduction of the Microsoft Surface tablet brought some enthusiasm from consumers, but interest dropped sharply once Microsoft announced pricing and the additional cost of the keyboard attachment," Barrett said. "The iPad Mini, conversely, is luring many tablet buyers with its lower price point."

In almost all product categories, intentions to purchase online are also increasing. For example, 47% of tablet shoppers plan to purchase online, versus 32% last year, and 25% of people looking for a flat-panel TV will purchase online, versus 17% in 2011. For almost all CE products, online shoppers show a preference for online storefronts of traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, such as Best Buy. These findings indicate retail chains, despite current short-term challenges, will have a long-term role in selling and serving CE devices.

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