The best and worst of technology were revealed last night (27/11/07) at the PC Authority Reliability and Service Awards, voted for by over 14,000 readers making it the biggest tech survey ever attempted in Australia.
Every company from Dell to Oz PC Market were present at a gala ceremony in Sydney’s Star City Casino to find out exactly what the Australian tech buying public think of their products and services.
While some of the winners won’t raise eyebrows, there were more than a few surprises, as the highlights below prove.
You can read all the results as well as analysis and the exact breakdowns of some 200,000 responses in the latest issue of PC Authority.
Here are some of the highlights.
Samsung took out the LCD Monitor Award with a staggering 6 star score across every category, as did Dynalink’s wireless routers. Both categories were close races, with Sony’s monitors highly commended and both Billion and Asus’ routers honoured.
It was a spectacular year for both Asus and Gigabyte. Asus was voted the best graphics card manufacturer and tied with Fujitsu for best Notebook manufacturer. The icing on Asus’ cake was winning the Editorial Team’s award for Technology Innovator, thanks largely to its $500 ultraportable laptop, the Eee PC.
Asus was just edged out by Gigabyte for top honours in the Motherboard Award. Gigabyte was also crowned best Tech Manufacturer, meaning it was not only shortlisted for multiple products but had the most positive overall responses from its customers.
Some eyebrow raising results included Apple edging out Dell to walk away with the PC Award. An unexpected result, but the tables were turned when the responses to the MP3 player category were revealed. Apple’s iPod was voted sixth out of the eight places in the MP3 player category. iRiver took out the top spot with full stars across the board.
The Best ISP category continued its tradition of delivering scandal. Telstra did even worse in 2007 than it did in 2006, when it came dead last. The numbers indicate that fewer customers were prepared to recommend its services; fewer were satisfied with customer service and fewer were happy with reliability. The most disconcerting statistic is even though Telstra’s service is measurably shoddier this year than last; it was third from the bottom -- in front of Dodo and Xtra Internet. Anybody using these services has our deepest sympathies.
Westnet was the winner of Best ISP, with a 95% customer satisfaction rating and nearly full marks across the board. Internode was highly commended.
The rest of the results are available in issue 122 of PC Authority. Editor Nick Ross had this to say in his editorial:Well it’s finally here. After nagging everyone to fill in our Reliability and Service Awards survey over the past few months, the results are in. Our normal Labs testing procedure for group tests relies upon enough spreadsheets to make an accountant blanch. But the 177 spreadsheets generated by our survey results were from another planet. After absurd amounts of statistical analysis and processing we finally have our winners. And boy, was it all worth it.
Much has been made about the state of Australia’s broadband but our survey adds facts and figures to the hearsay. Australia’s biggest tech company, Telstra, once again performed terribly with less than half of its customers willing to recommend the BigPond service to a friend – that’s even worse than last year when exactly half of Telstra customers recommended it.
Most troubling was that BigPond didn’t even come last in the broadband category. It didn’t even come second from last. In last place was the legendarily terrible Dodo Internet, with Xtra Internet only being marginally less worse. There are many excuses for the poor performance of these companies – and the nation’s broadband in general. Most people blame the Telstra monopoly. Telstra blames the government, the ACCC and just about anybody else that criticises them. Others have taken a more dispassionate stance, pointing out that because Australia has to pay more for the Internet pipes which connect to the USA (and because the USA isn’t particularly interested in supporting them) Australia will never be able to enjoy the pricing policies seen elsewhere in the world. At the time of going to press both major political parties had promised to rectify the situation if they were (re)elected. By the time you read this, the wheels of change will hopefully be rolling. We’re not holding our breath.
Another fascinating facet of the survey was the performance of Vista. It got absolutely hammered in our inaugural Best Software Award (which drew over 100,000 votes). Only 50% of buyers thought it was easy to use, only 60% were happy with the features on offer and only 53% thought it was good value for money. Next month we’ll be taking another in depth look at Vista to find out exactly why these figures are what they are.
The great thing about surveys like this is that the affected companies have nowhere to hide and only so much spin they can put on results. Last year, Telstra’s spin department (yes it actually has one – see www.nowwearetalking.com.au for an example) got as far as making an angry phone call to a major national newspaper when it reported our results. But, in the face of being told ‘it’s a public survey’, promises of ‘you haven’t heard the last of this’ came to nothing.