One of the toughest reader questions to answer when it comes to hardware recommendations is "Which vendor gives the best support?" In theory, as journalists, we have both direct access to corporate staff and a wide reader base to poll from. In practice, companies claim this sort of information constitutes trade secrets and lock it down tighter than Ft. Knox. Laptop Magazine
recently set out to rank the various major laptop vendors (Acer, Apple, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, Gateway, HP, Lenovo, MSI, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba). beginning with a set of three basic questions for each.
Most people aren't aware of this, but Panasonic briefly experimented with a NotSoToughBook before settling on their current systems.
There's too much data on each individual company for us to drill through here but when the dust settles, Apple, HP, and Lenovo all come out quite well, with Acer squarely at the bottom. One distinctly unpleasant trend LM noted in the survey is the number of companies that try to push you into paying for "advanced" customer service, even if you're calling well within the warranty period and, in some cases, with an issue that the original warranty should apply to.
We're glad to see Apple
sitting at the top of the customer service chart given the company's prices. If, however, you intend to buy a system in the near future, we recommend reading over our story on laptop failure rates
from last December. We've got nothing against Apple, but one of the less-than-shining realities of the company's failure rate is that the extra dollars don't translate into superior product lifespans.