PCs

Poll: If HP is out of the PC business where will you get your next PC?

Hewlett-Packard is looking to get out of the PC market. If that happens, where will you get your next PC? And, this is the real question, will it matter?

It's August 2011, and Hewlett-Packard, an elder statesmen of computer manufacturers, has announced that it is looking to shed its personal computer business in favor of an enterprise-level software and service model. This revelation, along with the announcement that the company is also dropping its fledgling WebOS and TouchPad operations, has set the information technology world on its ear.

My personal opinion is that HP made the best Windows-based personal computers, and it was the brand that I recommended to friends and family when called upon for my "expert" opinion. Assuming HP sells their PC operations, I will have to reassess all the other manufacturing brands on the market.

It is interesting to note that, with HP out of the picture, there will be only two major U.S.-based brands left selling PCs: Dell and Apple. The other major manufacturing brands are located in Asia. Of course, this does make some kind of sense, because most PC components and most of the manufacturing takes place in Asia anyway. But such an eventuality indicates how much of a commodity the personal computer has become.

In many ways, brand, except in the well-chronicled case of Apple, is practically meaningless. The hardware inside a modern personal computer is nearly the same no matter what brand you look at. Check out Bill Detwiler's Cracking Open and Teardown Photo Galleries and you'll notice the consistency of components across brands.

So that leads me to a couple of questions: When your organization goes to replace a desktop workstation or a notebook, what manufacturer will rise to the top of your list in an HP-free universe? Is an Acer computer just as good as one from Dell or ASUS? Will price be the deciding factor or service after the sale perhaps? How can a manufacturer distinguish itself from the rest of the pack or has the PC become such a commodity that you consider them all the same?

HP TouchPad

Also read:

About

Mark Kaelin is a CBS Interactive Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He is the host for the Microsoft Windows and Office blog, the Google in the Enterprise blog, the Five Apps blog and the Big Data Analytics blog.

116 comments
tjsobieski
tjsobieski

For quite a long time the Generic PC is exactly that: a PC. Not an Apple. Apple computers are a fine thing, but for specialized use only. Do a lot of graphic work ? Pick Apple. If you need a computer you pick a PC. Brand may have meant something a long time ago, but not any longer. Generic PCs, generic drugs, they're all one and the same. The only criteria is: does it do the job, do their services fit the need.

PieceofPaper51
PieceofPaper51

A computer lover/geek co-worker brought up the subject about HP thinking about not making computers any more - another co-worker said she would not be worried. There were other companys from where she get a new computer. She said she would get it from Compaq. The computer guy and I looked at each other, then at her and had to laugh. Then we explained. (And no, she isn't blond.) But she did know of other Brand names ... Dell, Acer, and Apple.

by.gad
by.gad

Its all about the service when purchasing and afterwards if need be!

KINGDRILL
KINGDRILL

Whenever you buy a PC look for quality and design, the name of the product is less important its just that people have less time to decide what they really need so they choose to go with a trusted brand.

piratesmvp04
piratesmvp04

HP's board needs to quickly fire Leo Apotheker! He's running the company into the ground. I guess I can see the reason for cutting the Touchpad, but the entire WebOS operating system AND the consumer PC business???? HP is the #1 seller of personal computers in the WORLD! Why in the world would you cut off a profitable segment of your business? Plus, consumer PCs are a big chunk of HP's business. Apotheker must be an imposter. I'd investigate to see if he's not being paid off by Dell, Apple, etc to put HP out of business because these moves are simply outrageous

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

As long as you get an OEM license on a PC, and the company has reasonably decent service (which rules out Acer, for one) does it really matter whose brand of PC to buy? It's pretty much the same hardware, running the same darn operating system. All the components are made in China anyway, so the money goes to China by one means or another. I guess that in most commercial applications, as long as it works, the least expensive solution would suffice.

PineappleBob
PineappleBob

I have gone through three HP notebooks in a few months; all with a broken case at the left hinge. Obviously this design is a poor design, and due to such a failure with three machines I can assure you I am happy HP is getting out of the PC market, as I would never spend another penny on their PCs. SO glad they are leaving, now maybe they stop sticking it to us with outrageously priced ink for printing and plotting.

TuneUp Utilities
TuneUp Utilities

With HP out of the picture, it could give other manufacturing brands a big chance to make a name for themselves. You say HP made the best Windows-based personal computers, but with them stepping down, who can you see becoming the next big name in the PC world? http://tek.io/nAACDi

wdolese
wdolese

It does matter. Apple has nothing that can compete with a Windows based workstation like the HP Z400,Z600,Z800 for data research. Who wants to compose a two or three hundred page report on an Ipad or I phone. I hope Dell has something.

ManOnFire6469
ManOnFire6469

I can't tell you how many Dell desktop PC's have had to repair and work on over the years. This is sad news to me. HP was the best.

Orlbuckeye
Orlbuckeye

If you companies uses laptops then the brand names are unimportant since the ODM's like Quanta, Compal and Wistron are some of the true manufacturer's. Those 3 also manufacture across brands. In other words u may get and Apple, Dell and Toshiba that are actually manufactured by the same ODM in Taiwan or China. Support is key when and organization is dependent on having working computers.

Shaun PC
Shaun PC

We put our computers out for tender when it's time to refresh. Typically, the contract will go to a smaller company building white box computers. As long as the components are good quality there is no problem. We haven't been burned yet.

Dr_Zinj
Dr_Zinj

The same place I got the last 2, I built them from parts.

QueenieJ
QueenieJ

Horrrible experiences with BOTH support departments via chat and phone! However, it was much easier to find info on the Dell than the HP machine. Also, I agree: HP drivers are horribly notorious for not 'playing well with others' which wouldn't be so bad but for the fact that IS their purpose! LOL! In fact, I had to send my laptop in for repair 3 times back to back. Eventually receiving a brand new replacement (newer model); not because they couldn't fix my original, but because some nit-wit in the repair center apparently couldn't figure out the latch mechanism on it so they pried it open with something damaging the computer in the process. THEN SENT IT BACK TO ME IN THAT CONDITION!!! LOL!!! OMG!!! I thought I was being pranked because I could not fathom that ANYONE with connected brain cells, let alone a COMPUTER REPAIR TECH, would not know how to open a laptop they are trained to repair. I did receive a better laptop with lots of freebies to make up for this outlandish destruction of my property. We have owned several Dell machines over the years and have yet to experience anything close to the HP experience. In most IT businesses', revenue and profitability are driven by the business side of the company. Therefore, more resources are invested there. Before Dell, no business had really tried to make computers affordable for the consumer masses. Just my 'two-cents'.

Interactive Communication
Interactive Communication

HP has been a great company over all, tho i disagree with the desk top and laptop recoomendation propose. The in compatibilty design to only buy perifials from HP was its ultimate down fall, there corporate buy out of an exact mirro company compact just added to the limitation of what computer geeks could upgrade there computer. To much scripture and mother boards purposly tweek to force programmers to write the wheel, made there elucritive market it ultimate down fall. Tho this is their best move long over do. HP financial day light is their printers. They should move away from creating printer to connect to computer wit a USB io, they should concentrate on moving all thier printer to cat 45 and wifi.its no secreate all good hackers store there Trojan files in USB devices and what HP need to do is create simple programming with less scripture to be compatible to cell phones, tablet, laptop, and PC's. They have always been a leader of printer, now the next is residual warrentees on the products. Do the math on what will bring in more revenue. Finally HP have other avenue in the tech industry, they simply need to hold off until they see the right direction to take ,or go out there and start marketing for progressive leaders to guide with moving forward with new technology.

mark
mark

I work for an HP reseller and today they posted this form letter for partners to personalize and send to customers: Dear XXXX, I wanted to reach out to you regarding the recent announcements made by HP. As a committed HP Partner, ADD PARTNER NAME is dedicated to helping you understand the meaning and impact of these changes to you, our valued customer. Included among the announcements was the HP board???s decision to evaluate strategic alternatives for the Personal Systems Group business. Although these may include a range of options, this was not an announcement of a shutdown of the company???s PC business. Having now heard directly from Todd Bradley and other members of HP???s senior leadership team, I can tell you that HP remains committed ??? now more than ever ??? to driving growth of its PC business. A roughly $40 billion business, PSG is the largest PC business in the world with #1 market share and profitability in the PC industry worldwide. HP is not taking its foot off the pedal now and will continue to drive leading innovation across its PC portfolio moving forward. You also can expect HP to continue the company???s strong and solid history of taking care of you, its valued customer. You should absolutely feel comfortable and confident in buying HP just as you always have, despite the confusion HP???s competitors might be stirring. While there is uncertainty with change, I can tell you that I remain committed to HP and their products, and look forward to traveling on this journey with them. I also can tell you that I remain committed to you and will continue to keep an open dialogue with you as we identify the best technology solutions to help you run and manage your business. I encourage you to reach out to me with any questions. Regards,

dondor6571
dondor6571

I have been buying and reselling laptops for about 2 years now. Christmas of '09 I purchased off e-bay a HP NC6000 laptop as a Christmas present for our son's fiance. It went about a month and then wouldn't start. Turned out to be a "maxim" chip that had a very,very long blog on HP's website. Many there were complaining that HP left them in the cold by not standing behind their units. I finally got it working after tearing it down numerous times and re-soldering the chip several times. I sold the unit after it worked for about a week(gave the son's fiance a Dell that is still working great) Had a friend of mine from work give me a HP DV6000, what a piece of junk that was. Had the video chip soldering problem that is very well documented on the web, same thing, HP would not stand behind or even admit that the problem was as widespread on the various DV6000 models as it was. I like and have had good luck with HP desktops, but I am very scared of their Laptops. One exception is the NC6400 laptop. Have sold several of them and all doing good.

TsarNikky
TsarNikky

It all comes down to companies giving users value for their money. This can be service, quality components, a combination of both, or "whatever." What is being used for a company to stand out from the rest has to be tangible--smoke, mirrors, and laser-lights don't cut it. I'll gladly pay more for "more" service and reliable components. If I want a "toy," I"ll pay for a toy. If I want a reliable piece of hardware, I'll pay for a reliable piece of hardware.

eodx9000
eodx9000

I build my own computers so I can easily upgrade whenever I want to for whatever I want and retain complete knowledge of everything inside my computer so I know exactly what I need when I need something. Otherwise, I've never found an HP/Dell/Compaq that could even come close to cutting it for me, and Alienware being bought up by Dell made me just wanna kill a bunny.

rengek
rengek

I have always avoided the top sellers. I prefer the more specialized vendors like polywell and velocity micro. As some of you have already said, everyone just assemble parts built by others. Just like laptops are predominately produced by 3 companies (all in taiwan I think) and each company (hp, dell etc.) just rebrands it for themselves. My last pc was from polywell and that was the best purchasing experience ever. The sales person was so incredibly knowledgeable. He knew more than me and I'm a gamer uber geek when it comes to PCs. I didn't like their selection of cases and he gave me several links with hundreds of cases to choose from and told me it would not be a problem for them to order it to my spec. I had the same feel with them as I did when I bought my luxury car. If not for price, falcon northwest would be my prefer vendor.

mtalley887
mtalley887

I wouldn't group Dell with Apple as a manufacturer. Dell assembles computers from components made by other companies, components that Dell has paid to have slightly configured different to keep you and me from buying an off the shelf replacement ps or motherboard. There are plenty of custom computer companies out there that can put together a reliable desktop or server.

JLogan3o13
JLogan3o13

I voted yes on this. Our company is virtualizing client systems as fast as we can. When the software side is handled on the back-end, the front end hardware becomes increasingly irrelevent. There are a number of thin and zero clients on the marker (my favorite is the Samsung NC240) which all do the same thing; provide me with a brokered session back to my virtual machine. I could care less if the user connects from an infected Windows machine, an iPad, their Android phone, whatever. I would love to see more companies take advantage of this, and free themselves from the shackles of corporate desktops and laptops.

dhays
dhays

Here at the government office I work at, we use a contract made with Dell. We have had Dell Desktops and laptops for several years. We did have Gateways for a while. At home I have an HP, I just bought a new laptop for my wife recently (HP) to replace her older Dell. I suppose I might go with Dell, or get with my son and build one, don't know, the HP still is chugging along. Haven't had any major problems with any of the computers. Whatever it is I want Microsoft Media Center to be useable. I have the analog tuner that came with the computer and I added a digital tuner after the mandated changeover. Works pretty good, except for one channel doesn't tune in, I can't figure out why. Maybe W7 or W8 will make it work, or a new tuner card, who knows? Time will tell. I am not worried at the moment, maybe someone will buy the HP unit as some have speculated and continue to build them, or maybe the division will go the way of HP test equipment and become a stand alone company (Agilent).

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

1. How far behind the hardware development curve the insides are. Many are about a year or more behind the generic gear available for generic as components in the shops. 2. The availability and cost and level of tech support and general service. In many cases it's What tech support. 3. The cost and availability of upgrades and spare parts. Ever tried to do a real upgrade on a general release Dell, forget it if you need a real powerful power supply, they aren't available for most of them.

seggsyuk
seggsyuk

When I buy for my company it has been Compaq then HP. Great reliability and support. From now on it will have to be Dell as it is the support I am really after. Personal use, I build my own.

Contradiction
Contradiction

Pc's are not in our future. This discussion should not even be happening. Set up a few terminal servers and buy cheap thin clients. All your problems solved. I have done it, and now i dont care about hp or dell or lenovo. The cloud is here!

Peconet Tietokoneet
Peconet Tietokoneet

I think Microsoft will purchase HP's pc section and the patents to them so that Microsoft can build a better or enhance the tablet version of their up and coming version.

jimlhorn
jimlhorn

This does my heart good to hear that HP is going bye-bye, however I won't believe it until I see it. To us HP have done nothing but been a pain in our @#@$, with their terrible technical support and their sorry products. I put them in the same class as Dell, and we wouldn't have a Dell anything in the building. We are SGI people and won't purchase anything else but. And I must agree with a previous comment the DEC Alpha was the best server we ever had, and I too miss VMS a lot. We build our own servers, and if it we can't build them like an Alpha then we don't want it!.

cbartek
cbartek

Really, you don't understand why hp fell. Have any of you ever called them for support? In the past two years we have called then dozens of times on warranty issues with both computers and printers. The last time was a printer issue, the first printer was DOA, the first replacement they sent took five days to arrive and was DOA as well as the second and the third. needless to say my client was not impressed with my recommendation and I haven't made that recommendation again since. I haven't sold an HP computer since the first time I sent one in for warranty work and it came back untouched three times before they finally fixed it. I have been selling Dell computers for over five years, over two hundred per year, and have to call into support less then five times per year. If you tell them you did the diagnostics, they don't ask you to do it again, they accept the error code you got and they send the parts and a tech to install them the next day and usually you are off the phone in under 45 minutes. We have NEVER seen that happen with HP, they want you to run the Diag, send you to second tier where they want you to run the Diag again twice. then more times then not third tier wants you to start all over again. two to three hours later they promis to send a label within 24 hours that doesn't arrive and you have to call back and start all over again. True Story! Can you say "Hello, my name is Peggy"!!

aaron
aaron

Loved my HPs, but Sony makes the best Laptops!

pcrx_greg
pcrx_greg

When it comes to laptops, almost all are made in China and most at the same factory. Almost all desktop components are made in China and assembled in different countries around the world. I think most of the big companies engineer the specs themself but who really knows. Dell, HP, Acer all make consumer level desktops that are crap. I recommend to my clients that if they are buying a destop to buy a commercial desktop from one of the big companies because in my experience the spend more on the components and less on the crapware and unnecessary add-on harware that businesses don't want or need. I have built whiteboxes in the past and still do if the configuration that the client wants is not available in a commercial desktop but prefer not to build them because there is little to no profit in the work and when necessary the support can be a nightmare (clients expect you to cover everything including user errors). If HP sells its PC business, it will probably be to another Chinese company like Lenovo because the Chinese are deep in cash and trying to dominate the hardware business which the big companies and consumers are glad to let them do as long as they get a low price. Quality no longer seems to count.

da philster
da philster

I've had both HP's and Dell. Reliability, in my experience, has been better with Dell. "Under the hood", I've found Dell with more desireable features and an easier upgrade path. Cooling with Dell is much superior with dedicated processor airflow design, much larger heat spreader (heatsink) and a larger, slow-moving, quieter cooling fan . Overall, just better thought out. HP exiting hardware will not affect me.

macgvr
macgvr

I used to be a Dell only tech, no more. I had some of their servers run for ten years with nothing more than a failed hard drive to deal with, and most of the desktops I never serviced until I retired them. When I started replacing power supplies after less than a year, started having motherboards go south, I decided it was time to go with another brand. I chose HP for our server and our latest new computers. I wish I could say the server has been flawless, but it hasn't. I can say the service has been excellent. The desktop computers have been trouble free, unlike the Dells before them. I have been interested in ASUS because they have a reputation for quality and reliability. That is what I am looking for. The fact that their support is excellent is icing on the cake. If HP simply ends their PC business, and maybe even if they don't, the next computers are likely to be ASUS.

pgit
pgit

HP support has screwed royally more of my customers than all other makers combined. Cost a few of them thousands. Their laptops are prone to overheating, the only brand I've seen consistently go into thermal shutdown in circumstances you cannot categorize as extreme. They just don't provide enough vents and they use undersized fans compared to other makes with the same CPU. They were the first to abandon giving the customer an OS recovery disk and instead use a recovery partition, and the option to "go make your own stinking disk." Nice attitude. HP will not be missed. I recently placed around a dozen ASUS systems from laptops to server-size beasts. The service I needed on one (which turned out to be the delivery service's problem) was friendly and helpful. The computers all went to work almost immediately, a few have been up 24/7 since the day they arrived. With the exception of the laptops, it's as if these machines don't exist, they're just doing their jobs so you don't notice them Customers have been very happy with the reliability of their systems lately. Unless they let something slip, I see ASUS providing the best overall experience, when all things are factored. You may not use support much, but when you do it's usually approached with dread and foreboding. ASUS was swift, pleasant and actually witty.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Like when you need real reliability and real simplicity in your workflow. But then, that's more a factor of the OS and software than the hardware itself--unless you get one of those sub-Generic brands.

Roc Riz
Roc Riz

But is no longer true. You can use either for anything. PCs do graphics, audio, and video quite well. Though this task was once performed with greater efficiency on a Mac in the past, with the rise of better graphics cards, faster processors, and the like, the PC is on par with its rival. The same holds true with word processing, and other mundane tasks. Today, there is much more software for the Mac than there ever has been. Applications are essentially no different in look and feel on one platform than another. This leaves the decision of office computers not so much what platform will do the job, but what platform will you prefer. This is where factors like reliability come in.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... when you're at the store looking at PCs? How do you determine the quality and design of one box is any better than any other sitting in the same row with a different brand name--or even the same? Do you look at specs? Half the people buying computers have no idea what those figures mean. Add to this a salesperson who may be paid to up-sell and you have nothing but confusion in the buyer's mind. Do you look at toughness of the case? Physical beauty? Maybe just the way it glows? How are these going to tell you the quality of what's inside? I will admit than in the case of a laptop, one that feels more rigid in the hand is more likely to be higher quality, but if that laptop is never moved from the desk, maybe the flimsy shell hides superior internals. Then again, maybe not. So just how do you tell quality and design by just looking? Maybe that brand name is more important than you think.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... I believe quite honestly that despite being the #1 PC seller the very low profits from such makes it very marginal as a division; their profits from enterprise servers and support are far higher. The problem is that HP can't do what Apple is doing because they're stuck in the commodity PC market which means they'll lose sales if they up the quality and price of their computers. Dropping the sub-$800 machines means they would simply give that part of the market to Dell, driving Dell to #1. Better to abandon that market entirely and concentrate on the enterprise market and leave the junk sales to the junk makers. That said, Toshiba seems to be making a strong move towards the top with decent-quality PCs which has put them to #4 behind Apple and now #3 once HP's hardware is sold out. Fire the CEO? Certainly--he's made too many mistakes across the board; he doesn't have the vision needed for a proper computer company. You can't be reactive, you must be pro-active to stay out front and HP hasn't done that for years.

JJFitz
JJFitz

I have always had good luck with Dells. Many of them at work and home are still in use and running fine after six years. I have very little experience with HP's outside of the server room. Inside of the sever room, they are top performers.

seanferd
seanferd

"Outlandish" was an excellent word-choice.

seanferd
seanferd

but I can make neither head nor tail of it.

seanferd
seanferd

Gawd, I loves me some warm, fuzzy business-speak. So genuine! In a form letter!

seanferd
seanferd

Apple might design more of its hardware...

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

1. Taking all Windows PC sales into consideration, what percentage of those are 'cutting edge', newest technology models vs "last year's technology"? You might be surprised. 2. You're exactly right here. Not one Windows PC brand has a customer satisfaction rating of 75% or higher for service and the majority of them are below 65%. 3. While some brands, like Dell, try to force you to use their service through proprietary connectors and other gimmicks, it is possible to perform some upgrades and repairs on your own. However, in the long run while it may be slightly more expensive up front, maintenance and upgrading is far easier on a home-built machine.

Who Am I Really
Who Am I Really

you name it, it's all the same slow junk there's a "joke" around here (that's not so much a joke as a problem) I can save a file to a USB stick or SD-Card, drive the 10 miles to the office, boot my system, put the file there, and drive back home, faster than I can send it to any "cloud" provider good grief floppy controllers are faster than the internet

JJFitz
JJFitz

Microsoft has never built their own pc's or tablets. They certainly would have more control over components and quality like Apple does. It's my understanding that there isn't much of a profit margin in desktop sales though but there is in the tablet market. - after the $99 HP TouchPad sells out :)

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

Apple doesn't just design pretty boxes, they design the circuitry that goes into those pretty boxes. They also specify the tolerances of the components that go into that circuitry. That said, they don't design everything. They tend to use the best they can find for things like hard drives (rather than cheap, off-the-shelf versions) and contract things like video cards. I know a lot of people say Apple does it just to tie you into their service, but more importantly it's to build the most reliable machine they can. Even Windows runs better on a Mac than on most cheaper non-Apple machines.

Vulpinemac
Vulpinemac

... is the supposed fact that they have a 40% profit margin? Now, I know that's not totally true; Apple pays more to have all the internal components (ICs, resistors, capacitors, etc.) held to much tighter standards--usually 1% deviation vs 5% or more for others. They also run their own tests of the incoming components and have been known to reject an entire shipment if a certain small percentage of components fall outside of that 1% standard in random sampling. Now, if Microsoft did build their own PCs and enforce the same kinds of standards, then Microsoft could see much more than a 5% profit margin on their PCs.

JJFitz
JJFitz

Apple also has a tighter control on sales and distribution. Direct sales from their own stores probably helps the bottom line. I wouldn't say that Microsoft has very strict QC on their Xboxes. The design is a bit cheesy and I fried the motherboard on mine in less than a year. They sent a replacement rather quickly though. Then again, what should I expect for $199?

Editor's Picks