US buyers snapping up cheap PCs

More and more computer buyers are snapping up sub-$1,000 PCs, and manufacturers that don't ave inexpensive models ready for Christmas will be at a severe competitive disadvantage, according to market researcher Computer Intelligence.

Retail PC shoppers are apparently becoming more price conscious, with 40 percent of buyers in August paying less than $1,000, according to the survey, up from 23 percent in July.

New models from Compaq Computer Corp. and PackardBell NEC Inc. were primarily responsible for spurring the increase in demand , according to Computer Intelligence, based in La Jolla, Calif.

The average selling price of a retail PC dropped to $1,341 in August. It was the first time average selling prices for desktop PCs fell below $1,400 in the four years CI has tracked the number. CI is owned by Ziff-Davis, which publishes ZDNN.

PC manufacturers generally have dropped prices