Which Notebook Brands Are The Best?

The website Laptop has launched a new series of posts about notebooks and netbooks. This time, they’re grouping the models by brand and asking readers to weigh in. Up first: HP, which generally has good aesthetics and keyboards as well as multitouch technology, but bad touchpads and heat issues. They also note that customer service is pretty bad for HP products.

HP is the only article posted as of now, but Laptop says it plans to do the same with all the popular brands. They also want readers to chime in with their own experiences, both good and bad, so if you feel like sharing some personal HP experiences you might want to head over there and comment.

“You Grade the Brands” [Laptop]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. dragonfire81 says:

    I am typing this particular comment from a Toshiba laptop I’ve found to be very reliable. Never been a fan of Dell and I won’t buy another HP machine after going through some BS with them.
    I’ve heard VAIOs are good machines but don’t have much hands on experience with them.

    • roguemarvel says:

      I have a Toshiba as well and I love how powerful it is for the price i paid, its been pretty good at meeting my media and gaming needs. However it does over heat, I’ve had it for two years and had the fan replaced once and have to keep it on a cooling unit with a fan if I do anything intensive or it will shut down.

    • morganlh85 says:

      Agreed…I had a relatively low priced Toshiba for two years and never had an issue with it. I replaced it with a bigger, also low priced Toshiba and it’s been going strong so far. I also hear good thing about Sony Vaio but they are VERY overpriced, IMO.

    • Rocket says:

      I am typing this on a Toshiba Satellite that I’ve since 2006. I’ve had no problems with it. Well, I did have to replace the LCD last year, and the keyboard last month, but my laptop is 3.5 years old, so that is expected.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      Had a VAIO, was fairly pleased but it wasn’t All That. Have a Dell Studio now which I like a lot.

      I go for big screens. :)

    • Chinchillazilla says:

      So far, I adore my VAIO, but I’ve only had it about seven months, so it may be too soon to tell.

    • chadraytay says:

      Every toshiba I ever had, (all 4 of them) was involved in a class action lawsuit because they cut corners in production. I had combinations of Bad Floppy, Bad Cdrom, Bad Processor, and severe overheating in all models. I definately warn people away from toshiba.

      Not to mention the one model turned out to be some “Legacy Free Experiment” piece of….. No bios settings or startup screen, no manual hardware adjustments, and no legacy hardware commands (basically everything HAD to have its driver to work) that come in handy when you have a system problem and need the computer to boot from a rescue disk…

    • Noadi says:

      I’m on a Toshiba Satellite that is about 3 years old and has been thoroughly beaten up. My brother had it first and killed the original harddrive while he was deployed in Iraq. I replaced the HD installed Ubuntu Linux and it’s been going strong for the last year. It’s survived being stepped on, dropped, water spilled on it, etc. and that’s just what I’ve done, my brother was even harder on it. Toshiba has earned my loyalty for just how tough their laptop is.

    • Tmoney02 says:

      My Roommate, Girlfriend, and myself all had Sony VAIOs and all of them ended up with hardware problems between the first and second year. They all became unusable. I would not recommend VAIOs but I will put an asterisk and say this was 4-5 years ago so things may have changed.

  2. littlemoose says:

    I’ll share this over at Laptop too, but I have actually been really pleased with my HP laptop, and with HP’s customer service in particular. After I’d had this laptop for about 18 months, the wireless adapter started malfunctioning. I googled it and found it to be a known hardware problem with this series of laptops, and that HP had extended the warranty to cover this issue. I contacted HP and they promptly sent me a box to ship my laptop to them. It was repaired and returned to me a few days later, free of charge. The best part, and what made it above and beyond for me, was that they also repaired a few broken keys on the laptop keyboard, even though I didn’t mention it or request a repair — HP just noticed they were broken, and fixed them free of charge. The laptop has worked perfectly ever since.

  3. jijacob says:

    The most reliable laptop I’ve ever used was an Asus. They seem to have some great engineering about the. Well, the old Thinkpads would be above Asus, but Lenovo just doesn’t quite get em right.

    • spazztastic says:

      Asus is great, as long as the first thing you do when you unbox it is reinstall the operating system. From my experience, they install so much crapware it takes 15 minutes to start up.

      • Hyman Decent says:

        Don’t the restore disks included with any PC include the crapware, though?

        • Shadowman615 says:

          I can’t say for Asus, but I know with at least some other vendors there are separate discs for reinstalling windows, drivers, and crapware. Dell, for example, pretty much gives a standard windows install disc with a dell label on it.

          Actually these days the restoration files can often be found on a separate partition on the hard drive and no discs are included. Still, it’s usually possible to do a clean Windows install no matter what. Or, if necessary, one could use an alternate (same-versioned) Windows installation disc combined with the license key that came with the laptop.

          • Hyman Decent says:

            Or, if necessary, one could use an alternate (same-versioned) Windows installation disc combined with the license key that came with the laptop.

            How can a PC user get such a disk without buying a license along with it? Not to mention that I’ve read that an OEM license key works only with OEM installation disks.

            • RockaRolla says:

              E-bay maybe? I havent looked. Or find someone who builds their own computers, they probably have one you can borrow. I am not sure about the legalities of sharing discs, but I would think it was ok since you have a valid license. There are lots of discs out there (I have 2) since most everyone who builds their own systems buys oem windows since it is so much cheaper than the “retail” version. The only difference is it doesn’t come with tech support.

              I have used oem discs purchased with a different license to restore several laptops and never had a problem activating windows.

              • RockaRolla says:

                I just noticed my discs say “do not lend” on them. Not sure if this is just a suggestion from Microsoft or if there is a legal reason. Seems to me as long as you have a valid license it should be legal.

      • Inglix_the_Mad says:

        Huh? All the stuff they have on my notebook makes sense. Webcam control, fingerprint reader control, bluetooth control, video control (color type selection, not as accurate as a color wheel but..), the only piece of “crap” installed was a NIS trial. All the rest was full function software.

        Oh and Asus gives you the discs in the box…

    • dollywould says:

      Are Asus desktops good, too? I’m trying to buy my parents a desktop PC and I keep bouncing from one brand to another based on every review I read. Very confusing for a Mac girl!

      • Powerlurker says:

        With desktops, the hardware is pretty much the same no matter who you’re buying it from, the only real differentiating factor is support and warranty. That having been said, Asus is one of the most respected OEMs out there.

  4. rpm773 says:

    I’m a Lenovo man. I’ve been using the Thinkpad keyboards for the last 10 years and love them. I’ve even bought an external Thinkpad keyboard for my desktop rig.

    I also like the non-glossy screens that most Thinkpads seem to come with.

    • DoubleEcho says:

      Same here – I use Lenovos at home and at work – far less trouble with them than we had with the Dell Latitudes.

    • ecwis says:

      I love my Thinkpad too. I’ve had it for about four years now and it’s taken a lot of abuse. I’m not too fond of their widescreen versions though. I think I’ll keep mine for a long time. Oh the red button is the best thing by the way.

    • Dead for tax purposes says:

      There is no other brand I even consider outside of Lenovo, I had a problem with the video going bad on my last one, they had it back to me in 3 days and you get immediately through to a human when you call. Plus you can’t beat the trackpoint mouse instead of using the touchpad.

    • supercereal says:

      Absolutely — Thinkpads are the only laptops I’ve ever owned. Heck, of the two I have now, I bought the older one back in 2002 and it still works (relatively) fine.

    • jesusofcool says:

      I’ve had my Thinkpad for four years and with virtually no problems and nothing but great customer service from the company. I’ll be a Lenovo user for life.

    • PsiCop says:

      Having worked many years in IT, I can say that it’s been my personal and professional experience that Lenovo laptops (formerly IBM) are the least troublesome brand.

      YMMV, but that’s just the way it seems to be.

  5. Thomas Palmer says:

    HP has always provided me the best customer service, of course I haven’t had to call them in two years because their laptops work better for me than other brands. I’ve always thought Dell had the worst customer service (I’ve had to call in for my parents’s computers). It is my opinion that HP has builds their laptop the best compared to other cheap brands (in other words not Sony or Alienware). So I always recommend HP computers when friends ask what kind of computer they should get.

    • quail says:

      That’s a totally different experience than the one I had 2 years ago and which others I’ve known with HP/Compaq machines have experienced. My advice to all is to stay away from HP/Compaq.

      (No one knows how hard it is for me not to rant against HP right now….Be thankful I kept this short.)

    • ktetch says:

      I had a terrible HP/Compaq customer service experience in feb with my desktop. Hard drive had failed (known barracuda firmware issue). Call up tech support, they want me to try the restore partition, doesn’t work (because it’s on a dead drive, obviously) then the restore discs I made. Doesn’t work again (because you can’t easily install to a dead drive). At this point, I was told I couldn’t go any further, unless I bought a set of recovery discs from them, because mine might be wrong. Bear in mind we’d already gone over diagnostics, and the SMART errors, and others had been read out to him, so he was aware the hdd was bad (the MBR was corrupted – I could access the data via knoppix)
      His superviser (fianlly) suggested I send it in, and I might have it back in 15 days (business, not actual). Called the store I bought it from (microcenter) 3 weeks earlier, and they said they’d exchange it for a working one no problem. It really was no problem.
      Sent off an email to the executives about it, including a recording of the tech support call, and heard nothing for a week, then 7 calls from different executives wondering how I can help, but were suddenly indifferent when I said I took it back to microcenter, got it swapped and it’s the last compaq/hp I’ll ever buy, and I have 7 sitting here. I’m even typing this on a CQ50 I bought a week before the desktop hdd failed.

    • Coles_Law says:

      I’ve got an older HP laptop and it’s treated me very well. It does get hot though. The touchpad works fine, although I usually use a mouse with it. I called CS once and the experience was overwhelmingly meh. Got resolution, but it felt like pushing through mud for much of it.

  6. winstonthorne says:

    HP = fail. I’ve had nothing but problems with the twin Compaq laptops I purchased in 2007, and absolutely no help from HP at all. Dell has many proprietary parts and tends to integrate main boards with processors, leading to higher MB replacement costs.

    • Thomas Palmer says:

      I bought a Compaq five years ago, it arrived with a bad HDD. The replacement process was easy, but the new HDD gave a different error message. Swapped again, same error message, so then I was talking with a manager and he suggested putting in the OS CD. It turns out the HDDs they shipped to me didn’t have the OS installed, and the error message made the problem sound like something totally different. That is was the most time I’ve ever spent on customer service phone calls, and it all went plesantly. I’ve called Dell about a problem with a CD-ROM drive, and they wanted me to buy a new one for more money than it would have cost to buy a DVD burner. I ended up getting transferred to an American who told me to reset the pins and it worked.

  7. axiomatic says:

    In truth, any of the companies making laptops can make a “lemon.”

    It’s not one vendor over another when in truth there are only Foxconn, Clevo, Compal, and various other Chinese ODP’s (read as ODM).

    So in truth, the only things actually handled by HP, IBM, Acer, Dell, etc. is the skin and the middle-ware (read as junk ware).

    This year the big flop may be Toshiba, next year, it could be Dell. And as I mentioned before, all of them can make a lemon, so why bother rating them?

    Focus on where the customer interaction is. where we SHOULD be rating these companies is in their sustaining processes like warranty and replacement and customer service. Those categories you are actually rating your Dells and HPs and etc.

    • floraposte says:

      It depends how the rating’s done. I totally agree that everybody can make a lemon, so that individual reports aren’t all that meaningful. But if you get enough reports to indicate a statistically significant difference in the rates for different companies, you’ve got–well, Consumer Reports.

      • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

        Well, it’s not just a matter of whether or not a company occasionally (or frequently) puts out lemons. If you end up with a lemon, as a reasonable consumer, you should contact the company that sold it and see how they handle your issue. As mentioned in the article above, they’re also looking for customer service ratings. If you get a lousy laptop, get a replacement, and the replacement’s fine, then it was a lemon. If you get a lousy laptop and the replacement is *also* lousy, then it’s probably safe to say that the product is not terribly reliable.

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    All netbooks are laptops, but not all laptops are netbooks. And not all companies make netbooks. So either they only compare companies that make full laptops and netbooks, or their findings and ratings are going to be kind of skewed. It wouldn’t be fair to give Apple a lower grade on netbooks because Apple doesn’t make netbooks. If you’re not looking for a netbook, it wouldn’t matter. If you are looking for a netbook, you would ignore the company that doesn’t make one, so you’d focus on the companies that would – and your judgment would be unchanged.

    I use a Mac, and I love it.

    • Chris Walters says:

      I’ve changed the headline to “notebooks” to make it more accurate. Thanks.

    • ecwis says:

      Practically every computer company makes a netbook. The only one I can think of that doesn’t is Apple but if you want an Apple netbook you can just buy the Dell Mini. I love my netbook.

    • mac-phisto says:

      isn’t the air a netbook? i mean it’s not really a notebook – isn’t that what a netbook is? no media drive, 1 usb port, SSD, built-in wireless – sure it’s larger & faster (& more expensive) than other netbooks, but isn’t it still just a netbook?

      • ecwis says:

        The great thing about netbooks is that they’re often $300 or less. The MacBook Air is $1500 which is outrageous. If you love Macs so much, just buy a $300 Dell Mini and put the Mac OS on it.

      • Powerlurker says:

        Nope, it has a real laptop processor, not an Atom or Athlon NEO. It’s also larger than most netbooks with a 13 inch display.

        • mac-phisto says:

          so then what makes a “netbook”? i understand the air is much more powerful than the typical netbook, but it’s also not a traditional notebook – it lacks key components that the typical notebook carries. it’s close to a tablet (in that it lacks these components), but the display doesn’t hinge. “ultra-portable”? isn’t that what a “netbook” is?

          all i’m saying is, if i were making a list of netbooks, i’d certainly put the air in it. & it looks like i’m not the only one –> http://theappleblog.com/2009/07/01/macbook-air-is-the-apple-netbook-end-of-story/

          • Powerlurker says:

            The only thing a MacBook Air is missing that a “real” notebook has is the optical drive. It uses components of the same grade as a normal notebook such as Core 2 Duo processors. It has a full-size keyboard and a 13.3″ screen.

            Also, the defining characteristic of a tablet isn’t just that the display folds back, but also that said display is touch sensitive.

            • mac-phisto says:

              i think it’s missing a little more than that. it only has 3 connectors – a mini jack, ONE usb port & a display port. compare that to the MBP that carries 2 usbs, firewire, sd slot & ethernet, higher-grade processor speeds & 2x or more ram. it doesn’t compare to the other notebooks apple sells, so if it’s not a netbook, then what is it? an overpriced, underpowered & crippled MBP?

              i mean, that’s fine if that’s how you want to think about it. i thought i was being generous. in the netbook class, the MBA is by & far the best. in the notebook class, it falls far from the mark. it can’t even keep pace with offerings by the same company that are less expensive & offer more.

              • Powerlurker says:

                I’d classify it as an ultraportable notebook. The idea of a netbook is to provide a bare-bones computing experience in as small and cheap a package as possible (although there do exist idiotic exceptions such as this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834117904) where people are willing to make significant trade-offs in performance for extended battery life. To this end, they use low-power, low-performance CPUs such as the Intel Atom, Via C7, or AMD Athlon NEO (a few models use heavily underclocked Athon X2 processors). The market the MacBook Air is targeting is one that is unwilling to give up a significant amount of performance in order to get a laptop in a very small form factor.

  9. sweetpea12 says:

    I have a fujitsu tablet and I LOVE IT. Fantastic customer service each time I’ve needed it. The warranty is spectacular. My space bar stopped working because of my boyfriend who has apehands, I sent it in and had it back within a week with a brand new keyboard no problems and no questions asked

  10. quail says:

    My vote is for either a Toshiba or a Dell Laptop from their business side of the operation. Avoid HP/Compaq at all costs. Horrible machines from my experience and my friends’. Even worse customer service.

    • Chinchillazilla says:

      My Compaq was the worst laptop I’ve ever, ever had. I was glad when it died.

      • Momto3BlackLabs says:

        Oh, great. I’m typing on a Compaq as we speak.

        I won’t be surprised if it dies though–I only paid $298 for it; what can I expect?

  11. Hyman Decent says:

    Don’t the restore disks shipped with any PC include the crapware, though?

    • Hyman Decent says:

      Dang it, that was supposed to be in reply to another comment. Sorry for the (forthcoming) double post.

  12. Hyman Decent says:

    I’d like to learn where each PC maker has its tech support operation for the U.S. market. Not that I have anything against other ethnicities; I’d just like some of my money to stay here in the U.S. rather than have almost all of it contribute to our trade deficit.

    • DoubleEcho says:

      Whenever I call Lenovo for support, their support center is based in Atlanta. Dell Gold Support is in Texas but when you call for regular support you get Bangladesh or wherever they are.

    • ecwis says:

      I believe most of Lenovo’s tech service is in Atlanta but for some of their Ideapad products, I think they outsource support to India. My best advice is to call the support line before buying your computer.

  13. Shadowfax says:

    Sager never makes lists like these because no one’s ever heard of it, but it’s the only laptop I buy. They’re the same laptops as Alienware, just without the alien themes, and consequently much less expensive.

    • Shadowfax says:

      (And yes I know Sager/Alienware are both ODM’d by Clevo, but Sager’s got better customer service)

    • jijacob says:

      I wouldn’t say *much* lower priced. I spec’d out a laptop for a guy that ran $8,000. Sure, it was a helluva thing but I’d imagine Alienware ran about the same.

      Either way, I’d still get the Sager to avoid Dell.

      • Shadowfax says:

        Well, any laptop that costs $8,000 these days is going to have insane specs. There’s a diminishing returns factor at play when comparing prices between the two. If you look at the lower-cost (but still rather powerful especially when compared to other laptops at the same price) options, you might have a Sager clocking in at $800 while the Alienware is well north of $1,000. Even $200 less expensive is a 20% drop in price in that range, whereas the $8,000 Sager might be up against an $8300 Alienware, and even though the savings are $100 greater, the percentage is still quite a bit smaller.

        In fact, out of curiosity I just specced out their top of the line 18.4″ laptop and even after adding the crap that no one adds (like extra mouse) I only topped out at $7278. Alienware doesn’t even offer the 18.4″, but I was able to bring their 17″ model in at $6988 (and that’s without selecting all the extra crap Alienware upsells that Sager doesn’t, like gaming wheels). It’s easy to see that if AW did have an 18.4″ model, a fully loaded one would be quite a bit more than the comparable Sager.

  14. calchip says:

    Both of the HP laptops I purchased crapped out within 2 years of purchase. One I ended up paying $150 for a laptop repair place to fix (it was a motherboard problem, and HP wanted to swap the motherboard with a new one at a cost of $550, which was about what I paid for the laptop).

    The other one, when I purchased it, I also got an extended warranty from Fry’s, and just before the warranty expired, it crapped out. Fry’s put in a brand new motherboard.

    I can understand a one-off failure, but between my experience (100% failure rate on two purchases) plus what I’ve read here, I can’t imagine I will be purchasing another HP laptop. A shame because they used to be a really premium brand.

  15. Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

    I have a Dell Inspiron 6000- bought it in December 2005, it is exactly 4 years old. Now, I don’t plan on rebuying, but I must say- it’s been pretty reliable. I only had to replace the hard drive once, and it was replaced under warranty with no hassles from dell at all. I spilled coffee all over the keyboard, and I just disconnected the inside keyboard/mouse and got a wireless mouse and keyboard.

    My experience has been fine, but I’m looking for a desktop computer since I don’t use my laptop as intended (it’s closed with an external flatscreen being used)

  16. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I have a Toshiba Satellite which has worked great for me so far. It’s the first laptop I’ve ever owned. I’d like to get a netbook to go back and forth to work with me, since the Toshiba is heavy, but I don’t have the money right now.

    It gets kind of hot where I rest my hands, but I have this thing that tilts it up and allows air underneath and that helps some. My IT man looked at it and said the fans are working fine, so I don’t know. I need to put some money aside in case it breaks so I don’t have to sit at my desktop until I replace it. I hate the stupid Insignia Pentium IV slow-ass desktop, but it refuses to die.

  17. cybrczch says:

    Former HP laptop owner – had heat issues, leading to 3 motherboards quitting in 3 years (after the 2nd, I told myself if there was a 3rd, I would get a new laptop instead, and the day before Thanksgiving, it quit right in the middle of accessing recipes).
    I’ve had good and okay customer support from HP. First time I had to send in for motherboard, the CSR was understandable, and very detailed in what I needed, especially telling me that I needed to make a full backup of my drive because it would be reformatted during the repair. The shipping box arrived within a couple of days, and my turnaround was about a week – and they also repaired for free a cracked bezel I hadn’t said anything about!
    Second time I sent it in, about a year later, the CSR was still understandable, but not as thorough and (most important) did not say anything about backing up the drive. Turnaround was similar to the first time.

  18. Infinitrium says:

    I bought a Dell Inspiron 1720 about 2 years 3 months ago. When I initially placed the order, I chose a less-powerful cpu than what was available amongst the selection. When I realized that I should have chosen the more powerful cpu, I sent an email to their customer service. They told me that they would cancel the first order and I could place a second order for the proper system. A day later, the first order was cancelled and I placed the proper order. Since I’ve had this laptop, I have not had any trouble with it that wasn’t caused by something I did. I did drop it about 2 feet onto a hard floor while it was running and it killed the hard drive but the rest of the system didn’t suffer any damage. All in all, my Dell system has been pretty great. Even the email customer service was prompt and concise.

  19. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    …but bad touchpads and heat issues

    Oh, so it’s *not* my fault that tapping on my touchpad is no longer a mouseclick.
    I have to sit and wait for it to detect the finger reader if I want to use that too, also new behavior.

    (Got the same HP as my mom since she’s had it for a while and liked it and I had to get one for school [the program required you to get one]).

  20. Powerlurker says:

    I’m surprised that no one has yet mentioned the SquareTrade laptop reliability study. Admittedly, it is published by a company that has something of a vested interest in its outcome, but it does provide some interesting food for thought. http://www.squaretrade.com/pages/laptop-reliability-1109

  21. TechnoDestructo says:

    I almost regret not getting an HP or Dell netbook for the keyboards, during the 15 minutes or so that it takes me to adjust to using my Eee pc keyboard (the tiny one). But then I remember that mine was the only one with a 6 cell battery in my price range at the time and I stop.

    Seriously, though, they do have some of the best netbook keyboards, despite generally making crap.

  22. akuma_619 says:

    For me HP has been great. I have had to main problems both times I was out of warranty and they fixed my pc. One was for a hinge crack on the left side and the other was that it wouldn’t turn on something to do with the bios. Both times I got them within 3 weeks and I didn’t pay a dime even though I was out of warranty.

  23. samandiriel says:

    IT professional with 8yrs of hardware support experience here. Most of my experience is with Windows machines.

    HP/Compaq: truly horrible on many levels. I’m convinced that the consumer products are those that don’t meet quality control for their business products. And even then, their business laptops tend to be pretty poor. Truly awful support.

    Dell: hit or miss. My favourite workhorse is the Dell Latitude D630. Generally awful live support, but their online self-service center, particularly with the ability to bundle and save certain sets of software downloads, is way awesome.

    Toshiba: best of the bunch. Their Satellite business line in particular is fantastic (tho usually large and heavy). I have a Satellite that has worked perfectly since 2002 with nary a hiccup (still in regular use in the kitchen, actually). I have no solid opinion on customer service, as I’ve only ever had to call it once to get some fairly efficient tech support six years ago.

    Sony: for yuppies who drive beamers or don’t want macs. Generally work well and look very sleek, but sometimes have lemons inside.

    • rickhamilton620 says:

      My D630 has been rock solid for the past 3 years. I love it. Shame the E series doesn’t seem to be as reliable/durable…

  24. BradenR says:

    It would seem a good place to start is the repair facility and support staff. Having owned an ACER Travelmate which was a disaster and the warranty service even worse, you couldn’t pay me to own one. Tonight since the laptop is dead, I decided to take it apart. Their “repairs” consist of several strips of cellophane on the motherboard. On tap of that, for the last repair, it went in with two 128mb modules of ram, came home with one 64mb. I think they are a bunch of thieves but there isn’t any way to prove it.

  25. courtachino says:

    I’ve had 2 HP laptops and they have both been great. The first one I got in 2004/5 and is still working. Bought this laptop in December 2008 and haven’t had any problems with it. I haven’t had to call HP for support, but their laptops have always been reliable for me.

  26. Eugene says:

    You also need to factor in that every brand has different models or model lines, you can’t compare an ultra portable from one brand against a desktop replacement from another, nor a consumer line against a business line. For example my wife had a Dell Inspiron (consumer line), keyboard, touchpad, fan, etc all died just after the one year warranty and the outsourced tech support was useless, I made several repairs to it myself, it ran too hot, etc. About 18 months old a main trace on the PBC burned in half and I parted it out at that point. I bought a Dell Latitude (business line), at the three year warranty point I called up the tech support line in TX and explained that the pcmcia slot was loose from carrying it in a bag with a network card in it. I had since bought an internal card to prevent the issue and I hated to be without my laptop that I live from every day. They agreed to send me the system board and a new fan since mine was a little noisy and a new set of the stickers that cover all the bolt holes. I had the new board the next day, swapped it myself and sent the old back so I was only down for an hour. That laptop is now over 6 years old and used on the arm of the couch every day. So you can see two systems from the same company at the opposite end of the reliability scale.
    Then you have the user bias, where someone has to send their macbook 8 times in one year and rates their reliability excellent.

  27. cete-of-badgers says:

    I’ve had 2 HP laptops with Issues, but they have pretty good customer service. Later I got a pricey Sony Vaio, and the monitor died in the second year after a minor jostling while it was in a foam protective case, and I got lousy customer service. I cannot recommend a Vaio. Rather than spend upwards of 400 for repair, I spent twice that amount on a new Lenovo T400 over the Black Friday weekend. It’s a beautiful laptop. You can tell it’s well-built, and it has all of these wonderful, practical features, and it’s fast as can be. I highly recommend it!

  28. MoodyTurtle says:

    Can’t beat the aluminum MacBook. I sent one of mine to my brother, who is (was) a Windows lover, so he could work on a special project for me. His first comment was that the MacBook was so beautiful, he almost didn’t want to touch it. Then he touched it, and fell in love with the “feel.” Now, after a few months of using it, he seems unwilling to send it back to me. Looks like I’ll have to drive 300 miles to his house and reclaim it by force.

  29. duffman13 says:

    I just got myself a black friday gateway and like it a good deal. It was fairly cheap at $400 but it does everything I need and has Windows 7 which is nice. The keyboard is good but not the best on a laptop I’ve ever used and has a numpad too, and I do like the touchpad, though the click button took some getting used to. I picked it because i hated the touchpad on almost every computer i touched at best buy, especially the HPs and Sonys, while this one was pretty pleasant.

    I loved the ergonomics on my wife’s 3 year old vaio, but otherwise the thing has been a piece of garbage since we bought it performance-wise, and I took my time de-crapifying it too. I had an old sony pentium 3 tower and that was a piece of garbage too performance-wise and crapped out all the time. I don’t think I’ll ever buy another sony computer after those.

    Actually the best computer I’ve ever owned is my coming up on 5 years old Dell Precision 370 tower. I threw in a new video card for $50 and upped the RAM to 2.5 gigs for another $50 before I put W7 with the student discount on it in october, and It feels like a brand new machine for $130 OTD, It’ll probably do well for another 3 or 4 years i would think.

  30. Thora says:

    I’ve only owned 4 laptops in my lifetime. 2 HPs, 1 Sony Vaio, and 1 Acer Aspire One(current). From best to worst- Acer>HP>Sony. I have had the little Acer for about 6 months & have had ZERO problems with it. It is awesome. Its the sapphire blue 10.1 inch with XP, 1gb of ram, & a 160gb HD. I recently upgraded it to Windows 7, 2gb of ram, and a 320 gb HD, and it’s just perfect. W7 runs like butter, and the only complaint I’ve ever had was the lack of built-in bluetooth, which I remedied with a micro BT adapter that I got for one cent on ebay.

    The first HP I had back in 2001 was a 10-pound dinosaur with 512 megs of ram & a 40gb HD. Didn’t even have wireless, it was so old. That thing was a TANK. I dropped it multiple times & it never skipped a beat. The only reason I got rid of it was because I got a new computer, the Vaio.

    The Sony Vaio was the worst piece of shit I’ve ever owned. I will NEVER buy another Sony computer ever again just because of the nightmare I went through with this one. It was nothing but proprietary bullshit- you needed a driver just to install another driver, a special program to download programs from Sony, and adapters for everything. Oh, and it only had ONE usb port. It reminded me of a Mac, honestly, cause everything was so specialized & Sony-fied that barely anything would run on it. I tried to install Linux on it- hoowee, that was fun. The hard drive mysteriously died after a year, and a few months after that it decided it didn’t wanna boot at all anymore, so rather than fix the damn thing I just sold it to its next victim.

    The computer I had after that was the second HP, which was a tablet PC. It was the one that would get really hot, the tx1000 I think. Man, it did get HOT! I couldn’t keep it on my lap cause it would burn my legs. Didn’t give me any problems though, until the wires in the screen swivel broke. The screen still worked but the speaker wire wouldn’t stay plugged in. I don’t know if it was a defect, I think my ex swiveling the screen the wrong way had a lot to do with it. That lappie got pawned.

  31. Pez says:

    I’ve had two Dell laptops in a row and I can’t complain.
    My latest one is the XPS 1530 and it’s running well.
    Dell notebooks are not too pricy, can be fully customized, and the customer support is very good.

    Also, I don’t see the point in buying a notebook in a store. If you have a problem with it, the store will have to return it to the manufacturer anyway. You might as well deal with the manufacturer directly.

  32. Jasmine says:

    I have an Acer Aspire and adore it. I bought in April of 2006 – and only a month ago had a problem. I got a virus and have to reinstall Windows. No hardware faults or anything. It did have the battery recall, but I never use it on battery, so I never sent it in. My sister purchased a Dell, and two months later the drive was blown and she hardly ever used it. A friend of mine has had his HP for a year, and has had to send it back four times now. They can’t seem to get the problem fixed, even on a replacement machine. We’re looking at a desktop Acer, and a new Acer laptop. I won’t buy anything else! Although some will say Acer sucks, I’ve had this little guy for four years now – even though its technically ‘obsolete’, it works as perfect as the day I bought it.