Even though consumers are watching their pennies, industry analysts say three quarters of us will be buying electronics this season. It's not just because they're fun, but because gadgets are now woven into our everyday lives.
The economy may be frightful, but electronics are still delightful, at least if the number of gadgets in everybody's hands gives any clue.
"Electronics actually are doing fairly well, relatively well, even in this economy," says Jim Barry of the Consumer Electronics Association. He says no matter that homes may be foreclosed and jobs lost, the number of gadgets we buy continues to rise. "The things that have been hot all year are going to continue to be hot as holiday gifts. These things have become a part of the way we live and so we really like these things, we like what they do for us, they keep us connected, they entertain us, they help us with work and with play."
The industry expects a 3 percent increase in sales this year up to $175 billion worth of products. It means each household in America will spend an average of $1,500 on electronics before the year's end, and three out of four of us will buy gadgets as gifts.
"There's something in every price range and there's something for everyone," says Barry.
Some of the hot items, according to Barry, include the Kindle reader which was $269 last year, but now costs $189. Plus, he says, it's easier on the eyes.
Digital cameras come with much more features. A Samsung dual view has a view screen on the back and one in front.
"If you're at a party and you want to get your picture with someone else, you've got the view finder in the front, and you've got the full view finder in the back," explains Barry.
The iPad is a hot seller for the holidays, but there are alternatives. A Lenovo Netpad works like a small laptop, but also twists around into a flat notepad. It costs $450 to $500.
One tip to save money, says Barry, is to buy items that have only the features you want.
"If you don't need the DVD drive, for instance, you can save a couple of hundred dollars by getting a netbook rather than a notebook computer," he says.
3D technology has added new excitement this year, and prices on big screen TVs are among the lowest ever.
"If you're on a budget, you have plenty of choices. That's the other good thing. Should I wait because the prices will get lower?" says Barry. "The truth is most of us don't wait because we want these things when we want them and we buy a lot of them as holiday gifts."
If you'd like to stay up to the minute on the hottest deals for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, check out our resource guide here. .