Apple tops PCWorld reliability, satisfaction surveys

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Our colleagues across the hall at PCWorld have completed their latest reader survey on laptops, desktops, tablets, and smartphones, and one company walked away with a win in every category. Here’s a hint: It is not Dell. Rather, Apple scored top marks for all four product categories.

The survey included responses from approximately 63,000 PCWorld readers who were asked about the reliability, features, and service and support of their devices. (In addition to the aforementioned devices, PCWorld also asked after digital cameras, printers, and HDTVs.) Results for the companies were then compiled and compared to their peers to yield the ratings.

In the laptop category, Apple got the best overall marks for reliability, scoring a better-than-average rating on problems on arrival, significant problems encountered, failed components replaced, major component failures that resulted in a dead PC, and overall satisfaction with reliability. In terms of features, Apple received better-than-average ratings in every category except for performance for price and ports, where it got merely average ratings. And the company also beat the average in all four categories of service, including phone hold time, Web and phone support, incidents where problems were not resolved, and service experience. PCWorld notes that Apple’s approval rating for laptop reliability rose from 82.3 percent in 2008 to 90.6 percent in 2011.

In desktops, Apple received similar ratings, though it did score just an average rating on problems that resulted in dead PCs and a below average rating on expandability—as a trade trade, however, it picked up better-than-average scores for those performance for price and ports/connectivity categories.

For tablets, the iPad unsurprisingly walked away with the crown, though it picked up a perplexing average rating on Internet browsing, putting it alongside every other tablet manufacturer except for HP. (Apparently the TouchPad had great Web browsing! If only users had had the chance to find out.) Under features, the iPad did end up with a worse than average rating on “available ports.” What can we say: It seems folks like plugging things into their tablets.

Finally, the most contentious battlefield: smartphones. The iPhone aced reliability, with better-than-average scores across the board as well as perfect scores for its ease of setup, Internet browsing, data syncing, music/video location and playback, and overall ease of use. Likewise, iPhone owners were the happiest with the features of their handsets, with only call quality falling below the average.

Of course, as smart, charming, and—above all—good-looking Apple aficionados, this isn’t really news to us. But now, should someone decide to deride your choice in devices as the result of some mythical “reality distortion field,” you can back up your choices—with science.

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