Survey: Computers not as reliable as toasters

The Australian Consumers' Associations has polled over 3000 computer users to find that the average PC ranks lower for performance and reliability than any other home appliance.

The poll takes the angle that as you can now buy computers and related hardware like scanners and printers in stores alongside fridges, microwaves and other white goods, you should be able to expect the same degree of reliability from a PC as an air conditioner. Interestingly, while scanners came out as the single most reliable appliance in the homes of those surveyed - with only three per cent of units requiring service in the last 12 months - computers came out on the very bottom of the list, with one in four systems needing servicing over a similar period.

Apple computers turned out to be the most reliable, and most brands had a better than 80 per cent reliability rating. Compaq and non-branded systems performed poorly, however, coming in at 77 and 73 per cent respectively.

Brand loyalty was also put to the test, and with only a few exceptions it proved universally poor across the board. Apple systems - perhaps unsurprisingly - had the most loyal users, while Compaq again came close to the bottom of the class.

Unsatisfactory and difficult to obtain service was cited as the most common reason that a consumer might switch to another brand.

Gail Kennedy, spokesperson for the Australian Consumer's Association, believes that this is the chief lesson for manufacturers to learn. "Because the marketing and advertising is so enticing, there's a real roaming mentality amongst consumers, and computers need to be up to scratch not only in terms of functionality," she said, "but even more so regarding the level of service - that's what will increase consumer satisfaction levels."

Kennedy doesn't hold much truck in the idea that computer reliability is often linked to user error. In this case, she believes, the poor tradesman is not the one who blames his tools.

"The human element should not be a scapegoat; a computer should be able to deliver reliability," Kennedy said. "If there's a problem, then the supplier's service provision should be adequate to deal with it."

Printers and scanners are on the whole much more reliable animals than PCs, while inkjet printers are overwhelmingly more reliable than their laser cousins. Ink cartridges were also tested and the verdict was that brand cartridges and generic cartridges offer more or less the same level of quality, while non-branded ones tend to be more unreliable. Printers also seem to inspire greater brand loyalty, although there is a definite drop-off with printers that have expensive ink cartridges. For instance, only 71 per cent of Lexmark users will buy the same brand again. Most users planning on switching brands blamed cartridge costs for the defection.

While scanners scored very high on reliability, they flunked in brand loyalty; an average of only 85 per cent of users would buy the same brand again. The reason for this is that most consumers - 44 per cent - see other brands as more appealing.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?