By Chris Morris, Contributor, InvestorPlace.com
Never doubt the drawing power of a low-priced HDTV.
26 percent of the people surveyed by ChangeWave Research say they plan to spend more on consumer electronics than last year — a nine-point jump from the previous month — and an overall 18 percent improvement over the same period a year ago.
HDTVs, predictably, are top of mind for many consumers, with LCD models proving the most popular this year, as retailers aggressively cut prices. Best Buy (BBY), for instance, offered a 46-inch 1080p model for $999 this year — a $700 savings. 32-inch sets went for as low as $248 at Wal-Mart (WMT).
Plasma TVs, while they’re a slightly older technology, remain hot, with interest levels up slightly from three months ago. High-end (and ultra-expensive) LED and OLED sets are beginning to pique people’s interests as well, currently capturing the same interest level as plasma sets. Look for those numbers to begin to spike next year, as prices drop and new models are introduced.
While analysts, including Wedbush Securities’ Michael Pachter, have been generally pessimistic about digital camera sales this holiday, ChangeWave’s survey argues differently, saying point-and-shoot models are the hottest item of the season.
While demand is off slightly from last year, interest in the devices has spiked in the past three months, perhaps also fueled by deep discounts. 14 percent of the people surveyed said they plan to buy a camera within the next 90 days.
Apple’s (AAPL) iPod, a perennial seller, isn’t showing any signs of slowing down, either — due in part to ongoing design tweaks and new features. This year’s changes include the addition of a camera to the iPod Nano and a $30 price cut on the 8 GB iPod Touch. As a result, interest in the system jumped 3 points since August and is 1 point higher than a year ago.
Despite increased competition, Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle is also showing strong momentum. Interest in the eReader is double what it was a year ago — and one-third higher than three months ago. The Kindle also had twice the interest level of other eReader devices at the time of the survey — though the Barnes & Noble (BKS) nook had not been unveiled at the time of the survey.
Consumer interest in Blu-Ray players, all-in-one printers, digital picture frames and high-definition camcorders has also moderately grown over the last three months, but the news isn’t good for all gadgets.
Recent across the board price cuts haven’t spurred too much additional interest for video game systems, according to ChangeWave. The Nintendo (NTDOY) Wii still beats the competition, but demand is nearly half as strong as it was in 2008. Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s (MSFT) Xbox 360 both scored low among the items consumers planned to purchase.
And the hot item of the last few holidays — the GPS — seems to be waning fast. The number of consumers planning to buy a navigation device was off 33 percent from a year ago — and interest has fallen steadily over the past three months.
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