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Lenovo responds to laptop reliability study

Lenovo responds to laptop reliability study

Lenovo has called shenanigans on a SquareTrade study that claimed poor reliability from its laptops.

After a fairly poor showing in a study on laptop reliability, Lenovo is fighting back - disagreeing with the results and questioning the motives of the company behind it.

The study, carried out by SquareTrade, attempted to quantify laptop reliability over a three year period and showed Lenovo's range of business-oriented notebooks pipped to the post by Asus, Apple, Toshiba, Dell, and Sony. However, Lenovo isn't happy with their placing - and is calling shenanigans.

Ray Gorman, executive director of external communications at Lenovo, points out that while the study looked at data from 30,000 laptops from nine manufacturers and across three different categories, in an industry which shipped 142.5 million laptops last year the "total number claimed in this report is not a statistically significant sample for a study where no attempt is made to control key variables affecting repair rates, such as comparable machine types, end users, geography, and applications."

As an example culled from Lenovo's own warranty repair data, Gorman points out that the company would "expect a 10X difference in repair rates between systems bought for [secondary school] students and systems used only in a home office by adults," a distinction which isn't made by SquareTrade's study.

Arguing that SquareTrade "has a vested interested in showing scary failure rates as they have done here [as] they are in the business of selling after sale warranties," Gorman claims that Lenovo's internal data shows that laptop failure rates are "at least two-thirds lower than what is claimed in the Square Trade survey."

For those concerned by the high rate of failure that SquareTrade quoted in their study, Gorman says not to worry: "PC hardware is extremely reliable, and this study is full of holes[, as the] method is flawed, the data is inaccurate, and the conclusion is wrong."

Do you agree with Gorman's criticisms of the SquareTrade study? Was the entire point to convince scared punters to cough up for extended warranties? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

21 Comments

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mi1ez 20th November 2009, 13:13 Quote
I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the figures for all of the manufacturers is lower than claimed.
B3CK 20th November 2009, 13:18 Quote
I didn't realize that the previous article was from a company that sells 3rd party warranties. That does show the effect of some propaganda marketing trying to gain some sales; but I do see how the timing of that article can effect holiday sales for the initial purchase this year.
leslie 20th November 2009, 15:53 Quote
There were a few things on there I found odd, much of which I chalked up to it being an aftermarket warranty.

As for the rates being lower, they more than likely are. This isn't a company you get insurance from at checkout, you have to search it out and you have to wonder, how many only did so after having a problem.
pullmyfoot 20th November 2009, 16:20 Quote
Personally the number of computer parts (I build a lot of computers) I have had to RMA for legitimate reasons is like one in a million
tank_rider 20th November 2009, 16:38 Quote
This is just the usual thing that you can make statistics say whatever you want. Were their figures just from those people who has stumped out for extra warranty with the company? If so that more says something about how they market their service, which, I imagine, is something along the lines of "cover all eventualities" so will be taken up on the most part by people who do things which may risk damage to their laptop etc.
coolius 20th November 2009, 18:26 Quote
My Lenovo laptop is still going strong after 5 years! Pentium M FTW!
Mankz 20th November 2009, 18:30 Quote
Uh oh. Time to lower the level of this thread.

http://img214.imageshack.us/i/shenanigans7sy.jpg/
Highland3r 20th November 2009, 18:55 Quote
All the (newer) work laptops are Lenovo's and haven't heard anyone having failures etc of laptops. They tend to be a bit slower/clunkier than the older IBM's but they're still rock solid in terms of reliability.
somidiot 20th November 2009, 18:56 Quote
I tend to agree with what the Lenovo guy said especially with the number of units they sell, although they're not purest enough to actually release their own internal numbers. Now that's something I'd like to see.
leexgx 20th November 2009, 19:13 Quote
Lenovo systems i have seen generally are solid and just keep on going (baring you dropping them or loading virus onto them)

more acer system lately have been getting to easy to brake, why do laptop makers have to make the power socket out of paper they are Really Skimping on securing the socket and results in it been broken, putting it on the side resolves that problem mostly
Smilodon 20th November 2009, 19:49 Quote
There is a huge difference between failure rates on computers used in different environments.

If those numbers are based on computes sold to the private market I could believe it to some extent (I could, but i won't). The problem that this segment is where most failures occur. Rough use and poor build quality will make things break. Most consumer level computers aren't made to withstand daily traveling and moving about.

Computers made for the business market are built very differently. Better materials, stronger construction and they don't push performance to the limit. Unfortunately this give bad specs, boring looks at a higher cost compared to the oh-so-shiny-but-cheap laptops.

Consumers want good looks, but don't want to pay for it. It's those who pay the least that expect the most from a computer, for some reason...

And then there is the test period. 3 years is one generation in the computer market. That means that if a manufacturer had a bad series of parts it will be very significant on this test. HP had the DV6000 and DV9000 series that failed all the time due to a fault in the construction of the motherboard. IBM also had a line of bad hard drives a few years back. (IBM Deathstar anyone?)

I have also dealt with companies that sell 3rd party warranties/insurances. They are all a bunch of scammers IMO...
squaretradevince 21st November 2009, 01:13 Quote
Hi bit-tech readers, I've posted a response to this article on the SquareTrade Blog here:
http://blog.squaretrade.com/2009/11/a-rebuttal-to-some-comments-about-our-laptop-failure-study.html

My main contention is that our overall study findings are in line with similar past studies done by Gartner and Consumer Reports. Please feel free to read my post and comment.

Vince Tseng
SquareTrade VP of Marketing
Psytek 21st November 2009, 16:36 Quote
What criteria were they using to define 'reliability' ?

It is extremely rare to get a hardware fault within the first 3 years of purchasing a new laptop, I imagine a lot of reliability issues relate to the user's treatment of the laptop, and also, windows...
cybergenics 21st November 2009, 19:43 Quote
If you go on the Apple website, they are running some of their 'Get a Mac' adverts that keep mentioning that Mac's are the most reliable computers according to some survey or other. Who's survey are we to believe. Also, I noticed the Hyundai Getz, Chevrolet (Daewoo) Matiz and the Kia Rio were pretty damn reliable according to surveys....but will I be getting one ? Will I **** !
confusis 21st November 2009, 22:19 Quote
Maybe this company has a large percentage of lenovos on their warranty ledger and needed an excuse to raise premiums?
djellison 21st November 2009, 23:35 Quote
We have a stock of about 24 thinkpads at work. They sit in laptop bags for 90% of their lives. They then get DHL'd to exam venues for two days of computer based exams. 1 in 6 has died after 3 yrs. Not all the same failures either. Screens, HDDs, Keyboards. It's a statistically large enough sample that personally, I wouldn't touch one.
leexgx 21st November 2009, 23:48 Quote
monitor is Very likey user fault the amout amout of times i have seen an customer pick up the laptop using the screen as an handle and crack it or they droped it (HDD death is droping the laptop when its on or sudden low 1-3cm drops when on) keyboards apart from water damage how was each one broken

DHL not allways carefull with items
djellison 22nd November 2009, 10:44 Quote
The HP's that have been through a same process - a statistically significant number also - have had NO failures.
alecamused 22nd November 2009, 10:54 Quote
I can relate to the original study. At work we have lots (12-15) of Dell notebooks, 2 Samsung, 4 Apple, 3 Asus and 4 Lenovos. 3 of these notebooks are constantly causing trouble and all 3 are Lenovos. Silly stuff like random noise from speakers (and headphones), keyboard not discovered (3/10 times it's turned on), half display stays black now and then. And the really annoying part - we had them rma'd and they came back as "fixed" and the same issues appeared again within the first hour of testing.

We had IBMs before and they where marvelous (and so was the support back then).
leslie 23rd November 2009, 14:08 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by djellison
We have a stock of about 24 thinkpads at work. They sit in laptop bags for 90% of their lives. They then get DHL'd to exam venues for two days of computer based exams. 1 in 6 has died after 3 yrs. Not all the same failures either. Screens, HDDs, Keyboards. It's a statistically large enough sample that personally, I wouldn't touch one.

You are shipping them all over for random people to use.

That isn't a reliability test, that's just plain torture. I'm impressed that only 1 in 6 has failed over 3 years.
djellison 23rd November 2009, 17:44 Quote
As I said - other manufacturers laptops that go through similar 'plain torture' have no such failure rate.

If a laptop can't stand being fed-exed 4 times, and used for 8 days before giving up the ghost..... there's something wrong.
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