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Service and Reliability of Major Technology Companies: 16th Annual Survey Rates the Best and Worst in Notebooks, Desktops and Printers

July 12, 2003 -- A Ziff Davis Media publication surveyed 18,000 readers -- technology influencers and consumers -- who evaluated companies in four major categories: desktops, notebooks, servers and printers. Apple, Dell, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Toshiba are among the top winners. The study evaluated everything from the reliability of the products readers are using, to the quality and frequency of repairs and technical support. Companies are graded from A+ (highest) to E (failing grade).

Overall Industry Analysis:

If the industry generally is moving forward faster than a particular company, then that company falls behind.

The Impact of Windows XP:
Overall, service and reliability has improved, due in large part to the effect of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP, which was introduced in late 2001. According to testing in PC Magazine's Labs and reaffirmed by the Service and Reliability Survey, Windows XP has brought computer users the stability of Microsoft's corporate operating systems - Windows NT and 2000. Michael Miller says, "If an OS performs better, so does the hardware it controls."

Desktop PCs:
Dell, for the twelfth time in 13 years earns top honours overall for desktop PCs, with an A+. This year Apple joins Dell at the top, earning an A+. Sony moves up in 2003 from a B to an A and newcomer ABS debuts with an A.

Dell, Apple and Sony received high marks in the work and home categories. Dell edged both Apple and Sony with an A+, while those companies earned A's.

Overall, consumers were generally satisfied with desktops after their first-year in the market. Dell, Apple and Gateway received the top ratings, earning A's.

Among individual product lines, Dell's Dimension, OptiPlex and Precision recorded significantly better than average overall satisfaction scores.

IBM, Toshiba and Apple all retained top rankings overall, earnings A's. Of the three "A" vendors, IBM has impressed users the most with its tech support and repair service. IBM rates better than average on 14 of 15 measures. The three top vendors overall also receive A's for home use, as Apple and IBM for work use.

Overall, Dell followed close behind, earning a B+ as with the case in 2002, respondents liked Dell's laptops, except for more units needing repairs. NEC, Sony and Toshiba were tops in the category of having significantly fewer than average percentage of units needing repairs. As a result, NEC improved its overall score significantly from a D last year to a B in 2003.

Continuing the dominance they've achieved for twelve straight years, Hewlett-Packard earns an A+ for printer satisfaction. It is closely followed by Samsung, which entered the survey this year with an A on the strength of its monochrome laser printers. Canon, third in popularity among PC Magazine readers and rated a D- last year, has improved significantly to a B-. IBM returned to the survey this year, earning a B.

In the home printer category, Hewlett-Packard gets an A+, while Epson and Samsung get A's. Hewlett-Packard continues the trend in the work category, earning an A+, followed by Brother and Epson, both earning B's. Canon, Epson and Hewlett-Packard received A's in the inkjet printer category. Epson and Hewlett-Packard earned top honors among inkjet multifunction printers (MFP).

Not surprisingly, more complex and heavily used printers need more service:

* The industry average score for the percentage of printers needing repair in the past 12 months is 13.6%. This is fairly consistent with 2002's results

* Work printers are more than twice as likely to need repair as home printers: 21.5% vs. 9.2%

* MFPs are half again as likely to need repair as dedicated printers
- 12.1% vs. 8.1% for inkjets
- 23.8% vs. 15.0% for lasers


* In the Desktops:Overall category, Micron/MPC receives a Readers Report Card grade of C, not D.

* In the Desktops: First Year category, the repair method used by Gateway and HP are, respectively, Company sent a new part (67% and 28%), PC was fixed on-site (7% and 15%), PC was sent out for repair (20% and 37%), Company sent a new PC (2% and 16%). There were not enough data to report on IBM's repair methods in this category

* In the Notebooks: Work category, Sony receives a C-, not C

* In the Printers: Networked Work Printers category, HP receives an A+, not an A

These corrections have already been reflected in the online version of the story at


The 16th annual reader survey of Service and Reliability covers desktop PCs, notebooks, printers and servers. Magazine asked respondents which types of equipment they had used in the past year (desktops, notebooks, printers and servers), based on information provided by an initial screener.

About PC Magazine:

PC Magazine, the independent guide to technology, delivers comprehensive labs-based reviews and the most trusted recommendations for buyers of technology products and services. Reaching more than 6.1 million highly engaged technology influencers, PC Magazine provides product reviews, first looks at emerging technologies and products, and opinionated columns from renowned technology pundits. To meet its readers' needs for buying information that is as current as it is comprehensive, PC Magazine publishes 22 times a year in print and continually on the Web.

About Ziff Davis Media Inc.:

Ziff Davis Media Inc. is a special interest media company focused on the technology and game markets. In the United States, the company publishes 10 industry leading business and consumer publications: PC Magazine, eWEEK, Baseline, CIO Insight, Electronic Gaming Monthly, Xbox Nation, Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine, Computer Gaming World, GameNow and GMR. There are 39 foreign editions of Ziff Davis Media's publications distributed in over 64 countries worldwide. In addition to producing companion sites for all of its magazines, the company develops tech enthusiast sites such as: Ziff Davis Media provides custom publishing and end-to-end marketing solutions through its Integrated Media Group, industry analyses through Ziff Davis Market Experts and produces seminars and webcasts. For more information, visit
Source: Ziff Davis Media Inc.

CONTACT: Randy Zane of Ziff Davis Media Inc., +1-212-503-3535, or"
Web site: ""

Hewlett-Packard earned a B and Sony earned a B-. Apple's PowerBook and Dell's Inspiron received better than average overall satisfaction scores for first-year products.


Margot B: author of a book & 100's of articles on health & the environment. Margot B & Associates consist of a staff of outstanding, professional writers in the US, Canada, France, Belgium, New Zealand. Copyright Margot B & Associates;  Author Profile


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