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Cyber Monday Deals Include $99 Windows Tablet PCs and More

It was hard to ignore the hype over the Thanksgiving weekend's traditional Black Friday and Cyber Monday barrage of cut rate deals including this year's decision by quite a few retailers to open their doors earlier than ever. Many, including the Microsoft Store, opened as early as 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day, hoping to lure people away from their turkey dinner earlier to get a jump on their holiday shopping.

Content with spending Thanksgiving Day with my family and not a big fan of crowds anyway, I decided to stop by my local Staples at a normal hour on Friday morning. To my surprise, there were just a handful of people in the store. When I asked an employee why the store was so empty on Black Friday, she said the crowds were all there Thanksgiving night.

When I asked her how many people bolted early from their turkey dinners, she said there was a line of about 100 people outside the store prior to its 6 p.m. opening Thursday evening. Apparently a good chunk of them were waiting for the $99 Asus EeeBook X205TA, which normally sells for at least double that price. Truth be told, that's why I popped in, though I had anticipated the allotment would be sold out. I had already looked at the 11.6-inch Windows 8.1 notebook, which can also function as a tablet with its removable keyboard. It's powered with an Intel Atom processor, 2 GB of RAM and a 32GB SSD.

I asked her how many people in line were waiting for that device and she replied that more than half were. While many Windows 8.1 notebooks and tablets were on sale during the holiday rush, the two prominent $99 deals were the aforementioned Asus device and the HP Stream 7. The latter is a 7-inch Windows 8.1 tablet and it comes with a one-year Office 365 Personal subscription good for the tablet and one other PC. The discounted HP Stream 7 is only available today at the Microsoft Store, which is also offering up to $150 off on the most expensive Surface Pros with Intel Core i7 processors.

The HP Stream 7 is also powered by an Intel Atom processor, a 32GB SSD but only has 1GB of RAM. While you shouldn't plan on doing much multitasking with this device, it's certainly a viable option if you want an ultra-portable tablet that can quickly access information and function as an option to a Kindle Fire (the Kindle app is among many apps now available in the Microsoft Store).

Given I already have a Dell Venue 8 Pro with similar specs and 2GB of RAM, the HP Stream 7 was of little interest to me, though it would make a good gift for someone at that price. Back at Staples, I asked the employee if there were any of the Asus convertibles left at the $99 price and to my surprise she said they were all out but I could order one with free delivery from the store's kiosk. It's slated to arrive today. Apparently you can still order one on this Cyber Monday on Staples' Web site (you can probably get a competitor to match the price).

Today the National Retail Federation released a report forecasting that sales over the Thanksgiving weekend overall were down 11 percent and there are a number of theories for why that's the case. The drop in sales does show that all of those retailers who felt compelled to open their doors on Thanksgiving Day may want to rethink that strategy for next year.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/01/2014 at 12:54 PM


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