Reliability and Service: Printers
Printers in 2008 were slightly more reliable than desktops or laptops, according to our survey participants. About 3 in 10 respondents reported having one or more significant hardware or software problems with their printers during the preceding year. That figure correlates neatly with customer satisfaction: Two-thirds of users said that they were either very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their printers.
Canon is to printers what Apple is to desktops and laptops: Simply put, our readers love their products. Like last year, the vendor garnered high marks in eight of nine categories, missing only on the "Problem was never resolved" measure.
Meanwhile Hewlett-Packard, which earned five below-average scores, stays on the schneid. Indeed HP's printer grades in 2008 are worse than they were last year, when it collected subpar marks in just two areas ("Any significant problem" and "Average phone service"). One semibright spot: Our readers deemed HP printers average--up from below average--in usability this year. In any event, despite its poor showing, HP retains a commanding share of the market: Of the 16,000-plus readers who participated in the printer assessment, half use an HP inkjet or laser printer.
Lexmark didn't fare much better than HP did, though it did improve on last year's results. Our readers slapped it with it four subpar grades, down from six last year. Specifically, our readers indicate that Lexmark still needs to upgrade its printers' usability and reliability; its phone support is improving, however, as is its ability to resolve customer problems.
Kodak dropped a bit this year, too, slipping to a below-average score (for three total) in ease of use.