Smaller, low-cost PCs are likely to be at the top of the shopping list for technology buyers gathering in Taipei this week for the world's second largest computer fair, as an economic slowdown in the United States forces consumers to cut back on spending.
Shoppers are feeling the pinch from rocketing fuel costs and rising prices, and in the United States the subprime crisis has left lenders less willing to hand over credit, leaving some consumers reluctant to buy new expensive personal computers and gadget heavy mobile phones.
Cheaper, low-cost PCs, such as Asustek Computer's Eee computer, aimed at emerging markets and buyers of additional computers, may keep growth on track for many computer and component makers.
These PCs, many with longer battery lives and wireless connection features, will share the stage with a line of eco-friendly computers with slimmer, energy-efficient displays and solar power systems, designed to cut power consumption as oil prices soar and consumers seek ways to reduce their environmental impact.
"We don't have deep pockets now," said Kevin Chung, manager at Taiwan's Jih Sun Investment Consulting.
"We really have to watch closely on the buying interest because that is going to be a signal on how the recovery's strength will be in the second half."
Asustek Computer, which makes the runaway success Eee PC, will display new, wider-screen models that allow users to do everything from storing video clips in shock-proof flash memory and surfing the Web in coffee shops.
Acer, Taiwan's most famous PC brand, will also test the water by introducing similar low-cost PCs as it expand into fast-growing emerging markets, including China and India.
"We will launch a notebook different than the ones we've sold before and targeted at a new consumer segment," an Acer spokeswoman said.
Next to Acer's booth, Intel will be promoting its new processors, as the U.S. chip giant sees a big market for ultra low-cost PCs that can fit in one's pocket and for the netbook, a PC selling for about $250.