In the desktop category Apple once again shone, with a top mark on every reliability and service measure except two involving phone service, where our readers judged it to be average. The company exceeded its own excellent performance in last year's survey, where it earned six above-average grades for its desktop Macs. Another standout manufacturer was Acer, which seems to have navigated its October 2007 merger with Gateway successfully. Readers were pleased with the reliability of Acer components, including those in the vendor's eMachines line. Nevertheless, a greater-than-average number of readers criticized Gateway's ability to resolve customer problems.
The report card for Hewlett-Packard's desktops was mostly bad. Readers knocked HP's phone support and the reliability of its Compaq-brand desktops. On the plus side, HP did a good job of replacing failed parts. Gaming-rig builder CyberPower took its licks for the second year in a row, with readers again griping about component problems. Sony lost a step this year, falling to worse-than-average in three reliability categories.
One interesting factoid not shown on the chart: Roughly a third of our survey participants reported encountering one or more significant hardware or software problems with their desktops. Only laptops caused headaches at a similar rate. Other peripherals were less troublesome.