updated 08:50 am EST, Mon November 29, 2010
Apple and ASUS lead reliabilty and service ranks
Apple and ASUS lead the way in computer reliability and support while Dell and HP are often the worst, according to a reader study published today by PCWorld that also included smartphones. Macs took the top spot in both desktops and notebooks as they almost always rated above average both in how few needed repair and in the quality of their over-the-phone support. ASUS came next closest with very high reliability for notebooks but mostly average desktops and phone help.
Both computer builders were significantly below the average for the number of systems needing repair in either category.
Dell and HP, however, consistently trailed in the results, often ranking at the bottom with most scores for both reliability and support going well below average. Both their business PC lineups fared better, but the deliberate sacrifices to the quality of home PC support were made apparent with wide gaps in the results. The two companies are well-known for producing some of the cheapest notebooks in the industry and were two of the first to outsource US support for home users beyond North America. HP has stressed it has set up support offices in Arkansas and New Mexico but has yet to staff them to where they can supplement outsourced help.
Apple wasn't uniformly the highest scoring in the smartphone study, taking the top marks in overall ease of use and happiness but losing out to Motorola's Android phones. Both rated well for an overall lack of issues, but only Motorola scored above average for its ability to cut down on major problems. The relatively heavy-duty construction of phones like the original Droid, Droid 2 and Droid X may have played a part.
Among phone designers, RIM was rated the worst with the number of problems and ease of use all rated as below average. LG, Nokia and Samsung were also criticized for the difficulty of using their devices; HTC achieved completely average scores in reliability, but Android's ease of use helped boost it to third place. Palm had poorer reliability, but webOS' ease pushed it higher up than some others.
In carriers, AT&T's claims of top marks were directly contradicted by scores. The current iPhone exclusive carrier was the only network to rate below average in any category, scoring at the bottom for both mobile data and voice. It had above-average retail help but was beaten by T-Mobile in phone help. Verizon was rated above average in both call and data quality, while Sprint also rated well in data and T-Mobile in voice.
The smartphone figures lent support to the importance of a Verizon iPhone widely expected to launch next year, since it would mate both one of the top-rated smartphones with a similarly well-received network.
Other top scorers in general electronics included Canon, whose cameras and printers were among the best, as well as Panasonic for its cameras and TVs. Brother, LG and Sony also fared well in printers and TVs.