As most laptops are essentially commodity products comprised of the same stock list of components and parts, one might assume that all laptop brands are the same, at least as far as the general reliability of the hardware itself.
Warranty firm SquareTrade has just released a research paper analyzing the failure rate for 30,000 laptops comparing brands and hardware categories--and the results might surprise you.
The headline news is that over three years, one out of three laptops will fail, and that Asus and Toshiba laptops have the lowest failure rates, while Acer, Gateway, and HP have higher than average failure rates. Additionally, two-thirds of those problems are hardware malfunctions, while the final third are classified as accidental damage.
Netbooks, in particular, didn't fare as well--as one might expect from low-cost machines. They failed at a rate 20 percent higher than mainstream laptops. But keep in mind, since Netbooks are a relatively new category, this is based on only one year of data.
The full report can be found at the SquareTrade Web site, and we've excerpted some of the most interesting charts and graphs below (and note that some of the numbers presented below are projections based on previous data).
The key takeaway is that laptops in general fail much more often than many other types of consumer electronics--in part because they're among the most complex devices one can buy, and perhaps because pricing pressure has led to lapses in quality control in the design and manufacture of many of these systems.