Netbooks may not be selling like hotcakes anymore, but it looks like the netbook effect has taken a toll on long-term laptop prices. Laptop Magazine reports that the average price of a notebook computer in March, 2012 was $507, or just a few bucks more than the price of an iPad.


That figure comes from new data from market research firm NPD.

Of course, the average is what you get when you throw $199 netbooks, $1199 ultrabooks, and everything in between into a pot, stir, and then spill them out to see what you get. At least that’s how I think you get averages. I didn’t pay very close attention in math class… or was that home economics?

Anyway, there are plenty of expensive notebook models on the market, and plenty of dirt cheap ones. But it looks like on average, people aren’t spending a whole heck of a lot of money on portable PCs.

And that makes me wonder whether Intel and its hardware partners are going to have much luck selling high-priced ultrabooks with price tags around $900 and up. We’re starting to see some ultrabook prices drop into the $700 range — but that’s typically for older models that have been on the market for a while. Future “cheap” ultrabooks will also likely make compromises on storage capacity and other features in order to keep prices down.

It’s not that premium laptops aren’t worth premium prices. Apple sells plenty of MacBook Air models. But the MacBook Air is one of the cheapest notebooks Apple offers.

On the other hand, when you show a typical PC customer a $999 ultrabook and a $399 notebook, it’s tough to make the case that the ultrabook is a better buy just because it’s thinner, lighter, and has a solid state disk.


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5 replies on “US Notebook prices averaged just over $500 in March”

  1. Please bring back ULV 11.6″ ultraportables (ie. not ultrabooks). Too bad most people (or at least that’s what companies seem to think) would sacrifice performance, cooling and footprint for pretty, thin and higher prices.

    1. Actually, the point of Ultrabooks is not to sacrifice too much performance for a thinner and usually lighter design.  Components like SSDs actually improve responsiveness and is more rugged than HDDs.

      Mind ULV’s don’t sacrifice as much on performance as the older CULV’s did.

      The problem is they’re starting to establish the Ultrabook market before they have the right level of technology to make them mainstream, but they should start catching up concept with capabilities with the next Haswell update.

      While we should start seeing systems with Nvidia’s Kepler soon for those seeking more robust GPU solutions.

      So don’t worry too much that what they have available now doesn’t look too appealing as it should get noticeably better in just a year from now.

  2. Why does Intel seem to be suddenly obsessed with taking down their own customer, Apple? Frankly, Ultrabooks just sound like compressed, flattened Wintel boring-ware. Don’t get me wrong, I like my Windows crapware. I will pay a few hundred for Wintel crapware, and I’ll pay $1000 when I want Apple’s wonderware and software.

    Besides, Ultrabooks will have Intel integrated graphics most of the time..which makes the crapware even more crappy than before. No thank you. I’ll keep paying $400 for my usual Windows-based boring-ware.

    1. Ignoring the Windows bashing/Apple praising… The simple answer for why Intel is pushing so hard is because they’ll get more profit from ultrabooks. It’ll be a competitive edge they’ll have over AMD as well as being able to charge more if ultrabooks catch on. 

  3. It’s especially harder to sell me an ultrabook which has less thermal headroom and is throttled more heavily because of it, for more…  In some cases the $500 computer is more efficent, and if the only premium feature is a metal body and an SSD…  Give me the $500 laptop.  I can buy my own after market SSD.

    I’m rocking a ASUS UL30VT, with an 120GB Intel SSD and I’m not sure why I would want to upgrade to any ultrabook…

    Maybe with Ivy bridge coming to market soon…  But no thanks.

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