Study reveals laptop brand reliability

November 18, 2009 | 10:21

Tags: #warranty

Companies: #acer #apple #asus #dell #lenovo #sony #squaretrade

The results of a new study published this week reveal that while Apple's laptops might fetch a price premium, that doesn't necessarily equate to a more reliable system.

The study, carried out by SquareTrade and reported over at InfoWorld, reveals that while Apple's range of MacBook and MacBook Pro laptops are certainly reliable enough, they only make it to fourth place overall.

In the 30,000 laptops which were part of the study of failure rates requiring after-sales warranty service, Apple was beaten in reliability by Toshiba and Sony. Further, Asus managed to pip everyone to the post, coming in at the lowest failure rate of all - just 15.6 percent of Asus machines required warranty repairs over a three-year period.

Despite Apple's relatively poor showing - at 17.4 percent over three years - it still managed to beat business staples including Dell, Lenovo, and Hewlett-Packard - with the latter managing an astoundingly bad 25.6 percent projected failure rate over a three-year period.

SquareTrade's vice president Vince Tseng said of the study that "it's not really surprising that Apple's in the middle of the pack," but that "what was surprising was that Asus came out on top."

The study also showed the reason for the common 12-month warranty offered by most companies on their products: in the first year, less than five percent of laptops had failed in a way which would require repair or replacement under the terms of the warranty. This had more than doubled to 12.7 percent in the second year, before hitting 20.4 percent - a one in five chance you'll need to get the laptop fixed - in the third year.

Another interesting statistic to come from the study is that netbooks, by and large, are more likely to fail than their larger counterparts - despite the use of shock-proof solid-state storage in many models. In the first year of use, the study shows that an average netbook is 23 percent more likely to fail than an average 'budget' laptop, and a massive 38 percent higher than a premium notebook.

Tseng gave three reasons for the seemingly high three-year failure rate of laptops: "People leave them on all the time, and notebook components are sensitive to heat. Two, they're portable and take a lot of abuse. And three, they're more complex than most other consumer electronics devices."

Are you surprised to see Apple being beaten by lower-cost rivals, or is it the sight of Asus at the top that has you shocked? Does the insight into failure rates in the second and third years make you wish you'd opted for the extended warranty, or are you confident the Sale of Goods Act will see you right? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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