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When is a bargain laptop not a bargain?

Laptop price shenanigans at Best Buy?

Two different prices for the Gateway P-6831FX.

Update [2/11/08]: We've heard from Best Buy, and the company tells us this laptop will be available for $1,199 starting Sunday, February 17. That represents an excellent value, and mitigates our disappointment over the original jump from the MSRP of $1,350 to the current $1,699.

Late last year, Gateway told us about its plans to bring a low-cost, high-quality gaming laptop to Best Buy stores as a retail-only exclusive. The system has arrived, and we were initially impressed with its price and performance, but now there seems to be some funny stuff going on with its pricing. Here's the deal:

The recently released Gateway P-6831FX has Nvidia's new 8800 GTS graphics card, a generous 3GB of RAM, and HDMI and eSATA ports. Our only initial concern looking at the specs was the system's somewhat stodgy Intel Core 2 Duo T5450 CPU. But all in all we thought we were looking at pretty damn good deal at $1,350. Apparently, so did a lot of other people, because the system's so hot Best Buy decided to raise the price on it.

While writing our review, we saw that Best Buy had changed the price on its Web site from $1,350 to $1,699. Confused, we did a little Web searching and found the P-6831FX still listed on Gateway's Web site with a suggested retail price of $1,350. We also found several message board threads complaining about the same issue.

We called Gateway and they laid the blame directly at Best Buy's feet, saying the P-6831FX was "selling like gangbusters," prompting the retail giant to raise the price by $350. We asked Best Buy about the price discrepancy late Wednesday, and the retail giant said they would get back to us. While Gateway offers a series of similar laptops online, called the P-171 series, the P-6831 is available only though Best Buy.

We'll update this post as new information comes in, but the upshot for right now is a laptop that we were very excited about is suddenly looking a lot less appealing. Look for our full review of the Gateway P-6831 later this week.