PC shipments declined less than expected in the first quarter, propped up by consumers' continuing interest in low-cost netbooks, according to IDC.

HP led the pack in worldwide sales, IDC said, with PC shipments - including desktops and laptops - totalling 63.4 million in the quarter. That was down 7.1 percent from the first quarter last year, but better than IDC's forecast of an 8.2 percent decline.

While concerns about the recession continue to weigh on commercial spending, "PC demand has nevertheless remained somewhat resilient compared to the last downturn," IDC said. Falling prices, fuelled in part by increased netbook sales, helped minimise the contraction, it said.

The survey was published a day after Intel CEO Paul Otellini said PC sales had bottomed out during the first quarter, and that demand was returning to "normal seasonal patterns". Intel still didn't provide a forecast for the coming quarters, however, citing the economic uncertainty.

After some PC makers have reported several consecutive quarters of falling shipments, many saw their numbers improve in the first three months of this year. Worldwide, HP, Acer and Toshiba all reported growth in shipments, of 3 percent, 7 percent and 11.6 percent respectively. Worldwide shipments at Dell slipped almost 17 percent, while Lenovo's fell 8 percent.

The worldwide ranking stayed unchanged from last year, with HP at the top, followed by Dell, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba.