This has been interesting.
I found a fascinating discussion in PC Magazine’s 2004 and 2005 surveys, based on about 30,000 computer users. They put eMachines and Gateway (now parent company of eMachines), and Compaq and HP (now parent of Compaq), near the bottom of their reliability list.
Apparently eMachines had a very unreliable history but by a year ago had turned this around and become very reliable. However, when they were bought by Gateway, reliability plummeted again. In fact, I bought Gateways for years, starting with a 25 MHz 386 for which I paid $3500 - but having gotten a couple lemons, I gave up and switched to Dell.
I have read terrible, terrible things about HP. Used to be, whatever HP made, nobody else made it better. Then they dumped their good calculators, splintered their instruments off as Agilent, and got into printers and then PCs. My friends at HP’s gas chromatography businesess shook their heads and said accountants were taking over. Now they’re selling one of the least reliable PCs in a commodity market through cheezy retailers.
Enough scary stories. If I knew how one of the store-bought PCs would turn out, I might go that way, but I don’t feel like dealing with getting unlucky. I just spent $450 on a Dell with 512 MB RAM, 100 GB drive, CD-RW and DVD, without the monitor, including shipping, and the free printer that nobody wants.
So, how’d printers get to be free, and how’d floppy drives get to cost $50?
Thanks, all, for somuch illuminating information.