Sunday, December 27, 2009


Apple John Hodgman’s campaign against the Mac continues to be a losing battle, at least among the readers of PC Mag, who for the umpteenth year in a row gave Apple high marks.

Sony Sony’s media-centric line of desktops are the favorites among the Windowsbased computers in our survey, despite a small market share.

When it comes to the overall satisfaction users have with their computers, Apple once again reigns supreme. The company’s Macintosh PCs—which we can all state unequivocally are actually Windows PCs too, if you want them to be—have consistently proven to be favorites among PC Mag readers. Apple’s significantly better than average (SBA) overall score (9.1 out of 10) marks it as a clear Readers’ Choice.
The company moved up significantly in scores for tech support since last year, too (8.6 SBA, up from 8.1). It suffered a little in that more of its desktop computers needed repairs this year (12 percent, instead of the 9 percent needing repair in 2008), and the likelihood of someone recommending a Mac to a friend dropped slightly to a score of 9.2 SBA. Still, these are very high marks. Even though we can call Apple computers “Windows machines” since they’re powered by the same Intel chips (and can run the same operating system), we still average the Windows-only system vendors separately, since consumers view the two Oss in such different light. And in the world of Windows vendors, not much has changed since 2008, when the average overall score was 7.6. The same goes for this year. That number held steady in part because of a nice showing this year by Sony. In fact, Sony almost didn’t make the final results in 2009, as a lower number of responses overall led to one-third as many Sony desktop owners participating in our survey. However, Sony owners who did respond are pretty happy with their VAIOs. Sony is the second Readers’ Choice vendor, with a better than average (BA) overall score of 8.2 this year— that’s half a point higher than the nearest Windows PC manufacturer, indicating satisfaction indeed. The company dropped the percentage of its desktops needing repairs by half (from 14 percent to 7 percent) from last year as well. Sony’s likelihood of receiving a recommendation to others also went up significantly, from a 7.6 in the average range last year to a BA score of 8.4 this year. Other companies saw very high percentages of products needing repairs— big names like Lenovo, Dell, and Gateway.

These numbers are very consistent with reader reports from last year (the only change was for the worse—Gateway’s fall from 18 percent to 21 percent. Needless to say, a high score on this metric doesn’t indicate pleased customers. Another interesting increase in overall satisfaction is with non-vendor PCs—those desktops readers either built themselves (which get an SBA 8.5 overall score) or bought locally from a no-name vendor (8.3 SBA overall). Yes, both types of systems received significantly better than average overall scores, giving them an edge over any Windows PC vendor, even Sony.

The other vendors in the final list either scored the same overall as last year (HP, Dell, Gateway, and Acer), or fell somewhat. Emachines went from a 7.3 to 7.2; Lenovo had the worst showing this year for an overall score in all desktops, dropping from 7.4 to a worse-than-average (WA) 7.1. HP did better this year, going from last year’s merely average 7.6 to a BA score of 7.7. Extrapolating the market share of a company based on the responses we received yields some intriguing information. Acer is the only vendor in the desktop survey to net more users than last year. It might not seem like much going from 81 responses in 2008 to 89 in 2009, but consider that every other vendor is down by double-digit percentages (17 percent in Apple’s case; 66 percent for Sony); this probably says something about how much PC Mag readers like Acer. When it comes to business-oriented PCs, Apple is still the top rated, but Windows vendors are led by Dell with an SBA 7.4. Dell also scores high for tech support, both overall and for business, and gets SBA scores for the likelihood of recommending in overall, business, and home systems. HP also scores SBAs in those three areas for likelihood of being recommended. We call that the power of the brand name.

When it comes to desktop systems that are less than one year old, the scores are always higher—after all, newer computers (hopefully) require less tech support or repair than a system with a few years and a few relocations under its skin. Apple (still the only vendor to get an SBA score) and Dell both had slight drops in their overall scores; Gateway and HP went up slightly, but are all just in the average range. Gateway and HP remain in the average range for overall scores.

Dell’s newer systems had some other issues. Last year for reliability the company scored better than the average (8.2); this year’s 8.1 doesn’t seem like much of a drop, but that score is suddenly worse than the average. It also had an SBA score of 8.2 last year for likelihood to be recommended, which fell to 8.1—merely in the average range this year.

Source of Information : PC Magazine 2009 11

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