Friday, December 11, 2009

Digital Christmas, Part II

Digital Christmas, Part II

Many of you who are lucky enough to still have a job are buying laptops for Christmas this year. Before you buy, there is some good news and bad news about laptops that you should know. The bad news is that when laptops break, they break expensively. The good news is that laptops break expensively and many of you pay me to fix them!

For example, if the display on a desktop computer suddenly goes dark, you can buy a new display for upwards of about $100 and be back in business the same day. If you break a laptop display you are looking at $200 or more dollars plus labor plus a couple of days of downtime while we find and order a replacement. If you spill a beer on the keyboard of your desktop computer, you can buy a new keyboard for about $20. Spill one on a laptop and the repair will cost more than a new laptop.

Other than suggesting you not drink and compute, there’s not much I can do about accidents with your laptop. However, if you are buying a new one, you might be able to hedge your bets just a bit by buying the most reliable laptop you can afford. I researched a few brands to see which ones were least likely to fail and will share those with you here.

Consumer Reports reliability ratings put Toshiba, Sony and Compaq up at the top for reliability with failure rates at about 17%. Systems form Lenovo, Gateway and Dell towards the bottom with 21% failure rates. Apple ranks right in the middle. That 4 to 5% difference in failure rates is not really enough of a difference to sweat over. However, I did note that Toshiba, Apple and Sony were generally rated highest for overall performance and convenience. Since Sony and Apple are generally more expensive, I give Toshiba the edge for reliability and overall performance according to Consumer Reports.

Next, I found an interesting article at one of my favorite websites for geek news,, who published data from a nationwide repair company that reviewed the 3 year repair history of different brands. Here is what they had to say, “Firstly, netbooks (small ‘secondary’ laptops that I’ve mentioned a couple of times in this space) have shown themselves to be on average 20 percent less reliable than entry-level laptops, which in turn are 10 percent more likely to break down than premium laptops. In other words, you get what you pay for.“

Their failure rate data echoes Consumer Report’s data and Asus, Toshiba, and Sony as tops for reliability and Acer, Gateway and HP at the bottom. Like the Consumer Reports ratings, the differences were not much but can serve as a tipping point if you are having difficulty deciding on one brand versus another.

Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, THANK YOU for reading my stuff here this past year. It has been a pleasure to share my geeky thoughts with you and even greater pleasure meeting both my readers who visited my shop. I hope even more of you will stop by my shop to say hello. Until then, Happy Holidays!

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