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Best Buy vs. Amazon: MacBook Air edition

Amazon is offering good deals on a couple of MacBook Air models while Best Buy is selling a previous-generation MacBook Air at a lower price.

Amazon may offer one of the best holiday deals on the red-hot MacBook Air. But don't count out California retail giant Fry's Electronics before doing the usual comparison with Best Buy.

The 11.6-inch MacBook Air can be had for $959 at Amazon. But Fry's beats that by a few dollars.
The 11.6-inch MacBook Air can be had for $959 at Amazon. But Fry's beats that by a few dollars. Amazon

Amazon is serving up a pretty good deal on the popular 11.6-inch MacBook Air, offering the MC505LL/A model right now for $959, which Apple lists for $999 (1.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo chip, 64GB flash memory drive, and 2GB RAM). This was based on a price check I did Saturday morning Pacific Time. Which brings me to a caveat: the price can change quickly, as demand for this unit appears to be high.

Fry's Electronics--whose giant warehouse-size stores are located mostly in California and Texas--will beat that price, though. At a Fry's I visited Friday night in Los Angeles, the MC505LL/A Air model was on sale for $949.

Fry's, a California phenomenon, beats all rivals on decor.
Fry's, a California phenomenon, beats all rivals on decor. Brooke Crothers

Not to be outdone, the MacConnection is selling the same model for $1 less, at $948. Though the online store shows it "on order."

Amazon is also offering the 11.6-inch MacBook Air model MC506LL/A (which ups the flash drive capacity to 128GB from 64GB) for $1,148.99, a discount of $50 off the list price.

So far, Best Buy isn't offering any special deals on the new MacBook Air.

(Correction: The current-generation 13.3-inch model is available for $1,299 with a 1.86GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB Memory, and a 128GB flash memory drive. That's a few hundred dollars less than I paid for the similarly-configured, prior-generation 13.3-inch model with a 1.86GHz processor, the same-capacity solid-state drive and same amount of memory. Ironically, that older model is listed for $1,699 on Best Buy's site. Go figure. )

And let me add as a postscript: Fry's beats Best Buy handily (for effort, not necessarily the result) on interior decorating. (Amazon can't compete because it has no brick-and-mortar stores.) I've been to Fry's stores all over California--Palo Alto, Sacramento, San Diego, and Los Angeles, and throw in Phoenix, Arizona, too--and I always find myself gawking and/or scratching my head at the curious dioramas that usually occupy a corner of the store (see photo). And decor, as well as bargains, usually get amped up during the holidays.

Updated at 9:30 p.m. PST: correcting for current 13.3-inch MacBook Air model with 1.86GHz processor.