Buying a laptop

Laptops are very popular because they are small, portable and neater than a desktop PC. But how do you pick a good one?

I see laptops at their worst, when they are broken. So my perspective is a little different. What I also see is how the various manufacturers react to a fault and how long the poor customer waits to get their laptop working again.

Brands I like; Dell - The service is second to none. Dell warranty gives you 4 hour (or next day if you went for the cheaper option) response. What this means is that within 4 hours of your call Dell will have a technician and the parts available on site in Hobart! They keep most parts in Hobart and meet this goal virtually always.

Apple - Of course. Elegant design. Reliable. Easy to service. 2 day turn around on repairs from my limited exposure.

Brands I avoid; HP - Used to make great stuff. Now made in China like everything and not all that well designed. Spend hours on the phone to India, then take it to the service centre. Wait a day or so for the paperwork to come through and then a few more days for the parts to turn up. Then it’s fixed within 24 hours of that unless it needs more parts.

Whenever I think of HP, all I can say is “how the mighty have fallen”.

Compaq - HP under another name. Same applies. Classic example of how NOT to outsource to India successfully.

LG - Obviously inferior construction and design. Built to a price. Parts take weeks sometimes.

Toshiba - To be fair Toshiba makes 2 lines of product. The blue/silver stuff you buy from Harvey Norman and the black stuff you get from a specialist. The cheaper stuff is Ok-ish, but not as good. The pro stuff is good. They do include some advanced features such as spill protector, shock sensors, padding etc. Parts take a few days. They should be the leader in portables but I won’t give them this title. If you were buying a fleet of corporate notebooks and you didn’t want Dell, Toshiba would be a good second choice. You’ll pay more than Dell. Toshiba parts are expensive.

IBM - All right until you want service. Call centre is in Brisbane but no parts in Tas and no IBM engineers. Work outsourced to contractors. Customers report poor experience. Several Tas Govt departments have ditched IBM because of the lack of service. The laptops are solid but not stunning performers.

Acer - Junk.

Asus - Cheap and cheerful. No service in Tas that I know of. In this day and age when you can buy really well supported brand name stuff (like Dell) why would you want a Chinese clone?

Fujitsu - Nice looking. No idea on the service backup. Expensive. I did price a part for one and the customer said no to the repair because of the price. They have a really cool tablet PC.

NEC - Bad. NEC “left the country” and no longer has an office in Australia. AVOID

Packard Bell (NEC bought them a while ago) - Real crap.