The notebook industry is experiencing a "crisis of quality", according to a report by researcher the Gartner Group.
The report, entitled Problem Watch, said that because notebook products are only profitable to vendors in the first few months of their introduction, only serious problems get fixed. Vendors then ship the systems, leaving any remaining problems to be rectified at a later stage in the form of patches and helpdesk support.
Problem Watch monitors Tier 1 and Tier 2 notebook vendors, reporting any problems that commonly fall in the following five categories: financial, organisational, quality, support and product. Vendors with multiple, recurring problems across a variety of models are put on Problem Watch.
The most recent Gartner study highlighted numerous complaints during the first quarter of this year of high "dead on arrival" and "infant mortality" rates (failures within 30 days), as well as a wide range of component failures such as power supply, battery, system board, hard drive and read-only memory (ROM) Basic Input/Output Systems.
Two models mentioned in the report were the Compaq Armada 4100, which Gartner rated "do not buy", and the Compaq LTE 5000, which was classified "buy with caution".
Compaq was the only vendor named in the latest report but Gartner said no single vendor was immune. Leslie Fiering, head of personal computing technologies at Gartner, said: "Notebooks generally require more testing than desktops due to large trade-offs required to optimise weight, size, price, power consumption and thermal characteristics. However, their short product life means that vendors cannot afford to delay introductions until all bugs are resolved."
According to Fiering, quality problems in notebooks have become so widespread that Gartner no longer considers it a problem when there's a single flaw in a single product. "It doesn't hit the radar anymore."
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