Apple's Mac computers and tech support score big in Consumer Reports ratings

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By: switchtoamac at: 6:42 PM on May 5, 2008 | Comments (1)
In the June 2008 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, Apple ranks high in several areas of the laptop and desktop ratings and is the clear winner in the tech support category.

Consumer Reports provided the following laptop and desktop ratings:

  • Brand repair history
  • Laptop ratings
    • 13.3-inch slim-and-light
    • 15.4-inch budget
    • 15.4-inch workhorse
    • 17-inch workhorse
  • Desktop ratings
    • budget
    • workhorse
    • high end
    • all-in-one budget
    • all-in-one workhorse
  • Tech support & Repairs

Brand repair history
This was based on reader reports of over 75,000 laptop and 63,000 desktop computers needing repair between 2003 and 2007.  The data were presented in terms of the percent of computers needing repair.  Laptop percentages ranged from 20% (Lenovo and Compaq) to 23% (Apple).  Dell, HP, and Gateway came in at 22%, while Sony and Toshiba come in at 21%.  On the desktop front, percentages ranged from 12% (Apple) to 20% (Gateway).  Thus, Apple came in on the high end for laptops but at the low end for desktops.

Laptop ratings
Apple portable systems were the clear winners in the laptop rankings.  Note that Apple does not sell a system that would fall into the 15.4-inch budget segment thus an Apple portable system did not appear in that categeory.

All systems in the 15.4-inch workhorse, 17-inch workhorse, and 13.3-inch slim-and-light segments had 2GB of RAM and DVD burner.  The MacBook Pro systems were the clear winner in both workhorse segments beating the second ranked system by an average of 10.5 points.  In the 13.3-inch slim-and-light, Apple took three of the five slots.

In the 15.4-inch segment, the MacBook Pro 2.4GHz, 250GB HD, 256MB Nvidia 8600M GT was ranked the top system beating its closer competitor, the HP Pavilion dv6700t, by 11 points.  Consumer Reports recommends the 15.4-inch MacBook Pro as the best for features and performance by stating:

"The Apple weighed the least and had the best battery life among the 15-inch models"

In the 17-inch workhorse segment the MacBook Pro 2.5GHz, 250GB HD, 512MB 8600GT was ranked the top system beating the second place Sony VAIO VGN-AR770 by 10 points.   Once again, the MacBook Pro was recommended by Consumer Reports:

"Among these 17-inch models, the Apple is the lightest.  Its price in the ratings includes an optional ($100) high-resolution LED backlighted display that was excellent but less accurate in color than the standard non-LED display"

In the 13.3-inch slim-and-light segment the top system was the Sony VAIO VGN-S2780 beating the MacBook Air 1.8GHz by 2 points, 75 to 73.  The 1.6GHz MacBook Air (71 points) was ranked third, the Dell XPS M1330 (65 points) ranked fourth, and the MacBook 2.4GHz was ranked fifth (64 points).  The MacBook Air was recommended as Consumer Reports states:

"The Apple is great for travel - it weighs just 3 pounds"

Desktop ratings
Of the three desktop Mac lines, Mac Pro, iMac, and Mac mini, only the iMac was included in the ratings.  The 20-inch 2.0GHz, 250GB HD, 128MB ATI HD 2400 XT iMac took the top spot in the all-in-one budget category.  This model was recommended with the following statement:

"This had excellent performance and very good ergonomics"

In the all-in-one workhorse segment the 24-inch 2.4GHz, 320GB HD, 256MB ATI HD 2600 Pro ranked third with 67 points, bested by the 19-inch HP TouchSmart IQ775 (70 points), and tied with the 22-inch Sony VAIO VGC-LT15E (67 points).  Once again, the iMac modes was recommended, Consumer Reports states:

"The Apple had excellent performance and and excellent display"

Apple ranked at the top for both laptop and desktop support, outperforming rivals Dell, HP, Compaq, Sony, Toshiba, and Lenovo.  Consumer Reports based the ratings on feedback from owners of more than 4,500 laptops and just under 5,600 desktops who contacted manufacturer tech support between September 2006 and January 2008.  Owners were asked to rate their support experience based on the following three criteria:

  1. Manufacturer solved the problem
  2. Time spent waiting on the phone
  3. Knowledge of the support staff

Vendors could get a minimum score of 0 or a maximum score of 100.  A score of 80 or higher indicates that customers were very satisfied, scores between 60 - 79 indicate customers were well satisfied, scores of 59 and below although they are not classified by Consumer Reports, we can infer that a score in this range would indicate that satisfaction was low.

Apple scored 83 in the laptop survey and 81 in the desktop survey.  Apple was the only manufacturer to score above 80 in both categories indicating that in the aggregate, customers rank Apple the highest among the three criteria listed above.

Apple ranked high for their in store Genius Bar walk-in support at the company's Apple retail locations.  Consumer Reports states:

"the Genius Bars in Apple stores, provided the best troubleshooting by far, solving problems 90 percent of the time."

You can view the ratings in the printed edition or online at the Consumer Reports web site.

1 Reader Comments

About time Consumer Reports got something right about Macs.

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