Current wisdom concerning reliability of laptop brands?

Whenever I look into a new laptop, the state of play has always changed from the last time I looked, w.r.t. which brands everyone knows tend to be reliable and which not.

What’s the current story? Given laptops of identical specs from different brands, which brand would you pick, and is your brand impression based on current info or is it based on what you knew a few years ago?

My wife needs a new laptop. She uses it just for internet surfing and simple picture editing. She just uses Flickr for that purpose right now. She says it’s okay if the thing can’t run better picture editing software, but I think it would be nice if that were an option. (I don’t know anything about image editing software so I don’t actually know what programs to mention here. Photoshop? Illustrator? Gimp? Those are things I’ve seen her use in the past.)

Here’s one I’m looking at:

Will it catch fire?

I’ve been using Dell laptops for a number of years now. Currently on #4. I’ve been happy with my experience.

I’ll be looking again in another year.

I’ve had two Toshiba Satellites in a row, for a total of 8-odd years. Not a single failure so far.

Much more important than the brand is which line within each brand you choose. In general, the business laptops are much hardier and easier to fix than the consumer lines.

So, go for the Dell Latitude and Precision lines; the Lenovo Series T, X, or W Thinkpads; or the HP Elitebook lines. I don’t know the Toshiba equivalent, but assume they have a business line too.

This guy has invaluable guides to getting used laptops:

Click on each company’s logo to see his buyer’s guide and tips.

Normally, I’d agree that you’re better off buying the business-oriented laptops, but the OP’s description of what the computer will be used for didn’t seem to justify that. I bought a notebook computer when my nephew started college three years and in that case I paid extra for the “accidental damage” coverage. I think I also bought the coverage that would send a technician out rather than needing to ship the computer back. I figured he was going to be depending on the computer for his coursework and couldn’t really be without it for long.

I use my laptop for the same things as your wife. I’ve had a Toshiba satellite for about six years. No problems whatsoever.

I’ve used HP notebook units for some years, but recently I bought a higher end HP “Beats” unit for my daughter and after several months had had to get into the unit to access a defective hard drive. There used to be a hard drive hatch to access the drive now you have to half way disassemble the entire unit to get to it sitting under the keyboard. It was an absurdly complex Rube Goldberg process and the interior fit and finish it exposed was (IMO) sub standard. So I’m off of HPs for the forseeable future.

Lenovo is probably the brand with the highest overall quality in the mid tier price range.

But what do you use his wife for? :eek:

Internal, inaccessible hard drives are pretty common for all brands, not just HP, especially in the “ultrabooks” that are now popular.

Note that many of these are now SSDs, which may be more reliable than conventional hard drives, so you may never need to get to it.

In looking at SDD reviews on sale sites they die pretty often and are not noticeably more reliable than platter drives in terms of failure rates, and when they go there is no noise or other warning as some platter drives give, and they are generally not recoverable at all. I like SSDs for performance but they do crap out occasionally.

I inherited my husband’s old HP when he upgraded to a gaming laptop for his work. He picked that over a conventional laptop not only because of the number of gigs but also because of its inherent power. The laptop itself is so huge that he had to special order a bag for it.

I’d say this HP is roughly 7 years old? It’s still going strong but it’s showing its age. I’m always looking at the laptop specials whenever we go to either Costco or BJ’s. I tend to lean on my husband’s advice since he’s the IT guy. He’s never had any luck with anything Dell, loves HP, likes Toshiba, and thinks Lenovo OK. To paraphrase him, “Think about what you’re going to use it for. You want at least 8GB memory, preferably more, especially if you plan to play games on Facebook or do a lot of graphics, anything that eats up memory. If you’re just using it to check email or Facebook you can get away with 4 or 6GB but don’t plan on doing much else. If you’re going to do a lot of gaming, you need a powerful laptop like mine. WoW graphics will eat up a regular hard drive.”

All my laptops have lasted basically 2 batteries long (one replacement battery bought when needed). After which they generally get too slow and need replacement. So durability does not seem to be a issue for me. I’ve used Dell’s and Compacts.