Sunday, August 27, 2006


PC Magazine's laptop and desktop reliability studies are in....


Look no further than Apple, the leader of the pack, whose overall score holds steady at 9.1. Last year, Apple's score on units needing repair was an impressive 11 percent—well below that of any other company in the survey. But according to readers, the company has managed to cut repair rates even further over the past 12 months. This year, Apple's score on units needing repair drops to 8 percent. Among first-year systems, it's only 5 percent. That's nothing less than astonishing.

As we've said in the past, Mac owners are unusually passionate about their machines, and this may have had an effect on the company's unusually high Service and Reliability scores. But the score for percentage needing repair is less subjective than others. Either Apple is doing something right when it comes to quality control, or its restrictive warranty makes people less likely to have their systems repaired.

Just how satisfied are Mac owners? That 9.1 overall score is significantly better than the average for Windows PCs. And the same can be said of the company's scores for reliability and the likelihood of recommending. It should be noted, however, that Apple's score on technical support is down this year (from 8.4 to 8.1).


Why do we separate notebooks from desktops? Well, in terms of service and reliability, the best desktop companies don't always manufacture the best notebook computers, and vice versa. Yes, Apple gets it right on both counts. This year, yet again, the Mac is a Readers' Choice for notebooks as well as desktops. But the other Readers' Choice for notebooks, Lenovo/IBM, receives some of the lowest desktop scores. And Sony, so ­impressive on the desktop side, is merely aver­age when it comes to notebooks.


Once again, Apple is at the top. Its overall score, 9.1, is significantly better than the average for Windows notebooks—and a full seven-tenths of a point better than Lenovo's overall score, 8.4. Its scores for reliability (9.2), tech support (8.5), and likelihood of recommending (9.4) are also significantly better than average. Yes, its score on percentage needing repair is merely average, but at 16 percent, it's the lowest of the survey (alongside Sony's 16 percent).

Is this a function of that unique passion Apple users have for the company's products? Perhaps. But, again, it's hard to question the number of units needing repair. Among first-year systems, only 7 percent needed repair—2 points better than Sony.