About 73 percent of households in Salt Lake have a PC, compared with 72 percent for San Francisco, according to New York-based Scarborough Research. Salt Lake City and San Francisco topped last year's survey as well.
Washington, D.C., with 71 percent, leapfrogged past Austin, Texas and Seattle in taking a close third place. Seattle and Austin tied for fourth this year with 69 percent penetration.
Overall, the study found that nearly three in five households, or 59 percent, have a PC. The study included 64 cities. Two-thirds of adults living in those households use the Internet at home, making a 29 percent increase in adult Net users since last year, the study said.
In an encouraging note for computer makers, the study found that close to 20 percent of those households without a PC plan to buy one in the next year, while slightly more than a quarter of households with a computer plan to upgrade during the same time period.
Many of the low-ranking cities were scattered through the Rust Belt and southern United States, although even those cities could count nearly 50 percent penetration, said Scarborough president Bob Cohen. Of the cities studied, Charleston, W.Va., came in with the lowest PC ownership (46 percent), followed by Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (47 percent) and Pittsburgh and Birmingham, Ala. at 48 percent each.
Cohen said that the difference between the highest city and the lowest has narrowed 3 percent in the last year and should continue to tighten.
"The Salt Lake Cities and San Franciscos of the world can only go so high," Cohen said, predicting the PC ownership will level off in the upper 80 percent range, as opposed to telephones and televisions that are in 95 percent or more of homes.
Increasingly, households with computers mirror the typical family, although they still tend to be slightly more wealthy and have a somewhat higher average level of education, the researcher said.
"In the past, computer households tended to be much more upscale," Cohen said. "Over the past couple of years, that has begun to change significantly."