The Gartner Group has warned users against buying Compaq?s Armada 4100 notebooks, and is recommending that they ?buy with caution? the PC giant's LTE 5000 and forthcoming notebook products.
The research organisation said it has received ?numerous complaints? that the Armada 4100 and LTE 5000 have appeared dead-on-arrival, or have failed within the first 30 days. There were also reports of component failures, including power supply, battery, systems board, hard drive and Rom Bios problems. Compaq said Gartner was raising old problems that are fixed.
Gartner has placed the 4100 on ?problem watch for quality?, while the LTE 5100 has a less serious ?buy with caution? stamp. This is because Compaq believes it has addressed the root of LTE?s problems. The LTE range has been on the market for 18 months, while the Armada 4100 has been shipping for six months.
Gartner has also suggested users ?buy with caution? Compaq?s forthcoming notebooks in the second quarter and third quarter, because the PC maker has yet to prove the results of its recent design and manufacturing improvement drive. It suggests that initial purchases should be restricted to small quantities for the first 30 to 60 days after release, until a better picture emerges about reliability.
Compaq?s UK senior product manager for portables, David Matthews, said Gartner has raised old problems that have already been solved. He also believes the number of customers that have been affected is fewer than the report suggests, though Gartner has not presented any statistics. ?There is no quantative research, which is disappointing for a market research organisation such as Gartner,? said Matthews.
The PC maker told Gartner it is aware of the faults and has fixes available. The problem has been communicating the fact to the full customer base beyond large accounts, said Gartner. Compaq suggests the fixes are being rolled out to all customers.
The PC maker said LTE?s problems stem from the Rom version, and that upgrading to version 5.50 should resolve the errors. The Rom versions of the Armada 4100 were also blamed, and Comaq said it is redesigning the Rom and creating an Armada 4100 program similiar to the LTE 5000.
Matthews said customers of the 4100 have had their keyboards and their Roms upgraded and that the product is still under warranty. In response to Gartner?s warning that PC makers are so pressurised to get products out on the market that products sometimes do not ship bug-free, Matthews said: ?Time to market is a pressure for all vendors, but we spend three years developing our portables and we test them during that time.?
In its bulletin to clients, Gartner said: ?What makes the situation so alarming is that we are looking at multiple problems across a variety of models. We believe that Compaq is acting in good faith and doing everything possible to resolve its notebook quality problems. However, not all the fixes are yet available.?
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