The companies were reacting to US research by Computer Intelligence (CI) which said that PC shoppers are growing more price-conscious and that vendors without a sub-$1,000 PC will be not be able to compete in the retail market.
"We had a giggle when we saw the report from CI," said Stephen Uignav, Dell's portable product manager. "We're seeing the opposite of the research here. We're focusing on second-time consumer buyers and we're finding that they're not looking for a £700 box if it doesn't contain all the trimmings."
Uignav added that most of Dell's low-end buyers are asking for extra RAM, a modem and more power "because they don't want to come back next year and replace the PC," he said. "They want upgradability and they want the machine to last."
Hamish Haynes, Compaq UK's consumer business unit manager agreed that the UK consumer demands a high spec and is prepared to pay a premium for it. "Pricing remains constant but the value for money goes up," he said. "There will always be buyers prepared to pay a premium for the latest technology, even in consumer."
Both Haynes and Uignav dismissed CI's claims that the higher end of the consumer market is fading away. "PC pricing is like the M25," said Haynes. "The more lanes you add, the more traffic you get. If you managed to bring out a £299 PC, all you are doing is widening the market."