Desktop PCs aren't bad, but Americans love TVs (and Apple!) the most

family watching tv
U.S. Dept of Commerce

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The familiar worms its way into the fabric of our lives—and if a recent report is accurate, our most beloved electronics devices begin with the television, end with the tablet, and, surprisingly, include our trusty old desktop PCs.

In general, though, American satisfaction with the PC is on the decline, slipping a bit in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report released Wednesday. It’s a mixed bag of results, not the least of which is that the report sums up a number of different factors into a single score for a variety of devices.

What the report does indicate, however, is a clear relationship between Americans and their televisions. The ACSI report pegged customer satisfaction with TVs at 86, far above the 78 ACSI said was the satisfaction level of consumers with computing devices, including desktop PCs, notebooks, and tablets. (ACSI assigns values on a 1-100 point scale.)  

But surprisingly, the most popular computing device was a desktop, at 81, compared to 80 for tablets and 76 for laptops. Customer satisfaction with desktop PCs climbed compared to last year's survey, but their satisfaction with tablets and laptops dipped 1 point and 4 points, respectively.

Apple iPod fake Nina Matthews Photography

Americans love their Apple hardware, the report suggests.

Why? Even the organization conducting the survey struggled to answer that question. “The increase in customer satisfaction for [desktop] PCs could mean two different things,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI’s chairman and founder. “Either the product is seen as more attractive now and is poised for a comeback, or it has higher customer satisfaction simply because those who were less than happy with it have moved to other devices. If dissatisfied customers leave and satisfied customers stay, average satisfaction may well go up.”

But boy, if you buy a PC, buy it from a smaller brand. For whatever reason, only Apple’s fans stayed true, and even their opinion of the brand sunk from 87 to 84. In second came the “all others” category, with 82 points. But satisfaction with the other big names in the computing industry—Acer, Dell, Toshiba, and Hewlett-Packard—all declined: All four scored 76 points or lower. At the bottom? Hewlett-Packard, which didn’t even want to be in the PC business a few years ago.

acsi pc issues

So what did customers hate about about PC bands? Talking to them, for one.

Interestingly, U.S. consumers preferred hardware over software, rewarding the design of the PC over elements like the operating system. Here, it’s difficult not to conclude that the consumer distaste with Windows 8 may have skewed the results. But the worst part of owning a PC is clear: trying to fix it. And that doesn’t look like it’s going to change anytime soon. 

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