squaretrade researchSquareTrade provides warranties for computers. So the company’s in a pretty good position to know how frequently different types of machines break down. And the company recently put out a study with data showing that almost a third of all laptop owners “reported a failure to SquareTade” within the first 3 years of purchasing a notebook. That’s not the most surprising stat I’ve ever read. Now here are a few more more stats from the study:

  • Netbooks are expected to have a 20% higher failure rate than other laptops in the first year due to hardware malfunctions.
  • Asus and Toshiba had the fewest hardware malfunctions within 3 years of purchase, while HP had the most.
  • The netbook data in the study has only been tracked for one year, so it’s too early to say how netbooks will stack up on the three year standard.

Now, that said, SquareTrade uses a very general definition of a netbook. Basically, it’s a laptop that costs less than $400.

Some machines that I would say are definitely netbooks (thanks to small size, light weight, and relatively cheap price, cost closer to $500. And there are plenty of 12 inch and larger laptops that are available for under $400, but which are definitely not netbooks. It’s not clear whether these were grouped into the category for the purposes of this report.

But you know what? The study basically makes the claim that cheaper laptops break more frequently than expensive laptops. Not only am I not surprised to see these results, but I’m kind of relieved. I should certainly hope that if you pay $1000 for a notebook that it would be designed to be more durable than a $300 model.

via Gizmodo

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16 replies on “Study: Netbooks fail 20% more than other laptops”

  1. I think one or two people upset here. Probably HP owners

    This is because the article hints HP is prone to failure.

    LOL LOL LOL. Too bad!

  2. Three things

    1) Very possible, as you said, you’d hope a $1000 machine would last better.
    2) What is a ‘failure’ a) it just stopped b) my ten year old nephew knocked it off the table. The what, where, when, how, and why of failure would tells us more….it might highlight netbooks are at higher risk being the “second/third” computer that leaves the house more.
    3) What is SquareTrade TRYING to say. Sorry, but give me a pile of data and I can make it say what you want for a price. SquareTrade might want people to buy better computers because those warrantee contracts are more lucrative up front.

    What I’d really want to know is what a 3rd party researcher might find. Sorry, my trust in this data is lower because of who is putting it out and that it makes some sense. Always question the data you think makes the most sense.

  3. I think the low cost computers – aka netbooks – are more likely to be carried with people; therefore, are more likley to be dropped. Since they are low priced, I think owners are more likely to be less careful when toting or using them. I think they think that low price means easily replaced with a newer one.

    I agree, there are notebooks that are less that $400 and there are netbooks that cost more than $400. I agree that price is not a good indication if it is a notebook or a netbook.

  4. For me, and I assume most people, the more I pay for something, the nicer I treat it. That simple effect can explain this entire phenomenon.

    1. Or, you could simply assume that teenagers don’t get the $2000 laptop for their birthday, they get the $800 special. The man who gets a $2000 laptop AND a warranty probably only needs a netbook, but his ego won’t let him admit it… and never uses it except at his overcompensatingly large workdesk.

  5. I wonder how many of the netbooks failed as a result of a tablet project going awrye?
    Or how many hours of usage the average machine in each category saw before failing? Did the more expensive machines receive business use, in the hands of employees who didn’t pay for them?

  6. I agree with gman. Stats like this are generally garbage and can be made to show whatever they want them to (or paid to). Funny thing about thier analysis…if you completely inverted the chart, it would be a ranking of the largest PC manufacturers/sellers to the smallest. Wouldn’t it then make sense that if company X is selling 1000 times as many units as company Z, then company X’s failure rate will, of course, be proportionally higher. Stuff like this should be completely ignored unless they disclose every last detail of how the study was performed.

    And just to disclose, I don’t even own a laptop, yet. Looking to purchase my first actually.

  7. Statistics can be made to say anything the writer wished, just by modifying their parameters.

    This is one company presenting their statistics, not the entire industry, and certainly not based upon the decade plus for which laptops have been in production.

    Netbooks are less expensive than your mainstream laptop and thus more prone to damage, not to mention less care by their owner.

    Move on. Must be a slow news day.

  8. Stats are for losers. Stats lesson. Is this analysis based on % of units sold? Projected failure rate? wtf? If 30% more netbook were sold than laptops, does it not make sense that their failure numbers would be higher? Is it not relative? This story is complete garbage, but people tend to believe whatever they read unfortunately. “Projected failure rate”, give me a break. The don’t even classify what a netbook is. They are one company. Why fans the flames are post about such a flawed and lame report?

  9. Could it be that netbooks are carried aroudn more often than a laptop thus exposing to more drops and vibrations?

    1. Or more simply put: notebooks fail. I’ve had my 1000HA for a year now and it feels as solid as ever. I’ve had 2 Powerbooks fail on me and I can tell you it sucks when your 4-figure computer is bricked and would cost more than the price of a netbook to repair (new motherboard, yeah).

      Seriously, how can they predict long-term (3 years) reliability when the models we’re looking at here are at most 15 months old? Sturdiness and weight of specific models has to matter (heavy, well-built Eee 1000H will probably stand more abuse than models 1 pound lighter). Also, from repeated personal experience, it’s the GPU giving up that bricks a laptop. With the Atom’s prehistoric and proven GMA, things should be better, just like with the rest of the equally-not-cutting-edge package.

  10. I have a Dell which cost >2000$ and its guarantee cost almost as much as a Netbook. It is supposed to be very rugged for that price. Within the first year, i needed the guarantee twice.

    My EEE PC 1000H has been in constant, heavy, crazy mobile use for 1.5 years and it is in super condition. I do expect many EEE PC701 to run fine for the next 15 years.

    A good netbook is a sturdy as a laptop eight times its price. A cheap laptop is just trash.

  11. Very interesting results. Of course very general as well. I’m surprised that Lenovo doesn’t rate better, since their business laptops are built like tanks. It could be statistics lying, by including all their low-end consumer products in the mix with the good stuff.

    But really, most of these laptops are made by other companies anyway, so take the data with a grain of salt. For example, both Toshiba and HP have laptops made by Compal and Quanta – so saying Toshiba is better than HP doesn’t really make sense.

    In the end, you should examine each model you are interested in, and look for obvious items that will break, fall off, crack, etc., and go from there.

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