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Tech Support Showdown 2010

Your notebook is only as good as the help you receive when something goes wrong.


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Lenovo

Lenovo Tech Support Results
Hold Time Minimum<1 minute
Hold Time Maximum>6
Average Call Length11
Phone Grade 2010B-
Web Grade 2010A-
Overall Grade 2010B+
Overall Grade 2009B+
Overall Grade 2008A-

800-426-7378
www.lenovo.com/support

We've applauded Lenovo's simple online organization and wide knowledge base in the past, and this year was no different. Regarding the battery life question, the company's website was a major resource. We found a 20-minute tutorial video on creating power profiles with ThinkVantage Power Manager, and Lenovo's Peer Support section places check mark icons near threads that include solutions to the problem discussed.

Additionally, the ThinkPad ThinkCentre offers driver downloads, troubleshooting and user guides, tutorials, warranty verification, and OS-specific support, increasing the odds that professional users will find answers to many of their questions. Lenovo's online support hub for consumer notebooks, the IdeaPad IdeaCentre, offers similar help, but with fewer solutions and in a less engaging interface.

This year a number of manufacturers adopted a tighter policy on the tech support questions they fielded. Count Lenovo and its Atlanta-based support center among them. Cole answered our first call after 2 minutes and 30 seconds of automated prompts and tech support website recommendations (unfortunately, the standard for all Lenovo calls). His response to the question about speeding up our Lenovo notebook's boot time: "Your warranty is basically a hardware warranty. I don't do configuration or software support."

We made another call at 10:30 p.m. (EST) and, after a hold time of over 6 minutes, received the same response when we wanted help sharing files between Windows notebooks on our home Wi-Fi network. Last year, on the other hand, revealed Lenovo's late night support to be less restrained and more chatty. Cliff couldn't help us, but, "Off the record," he said. "Just how you're talking to me, talk to Google." We understood what he meant, and appreciated that he performed a Google search for "setting up HomeGroup in Windows 7" on our behalf.

We made our third call on a weekday afternoon, and it was answered by Tom immediately after the automated prompt system ended. Energetic and friendly, Tom walked us through Lenovo's proprietary ThinkVantage software to maximize battery life, explaining that "you can get longevity or more comfortable settings."

Although Lenovo is not alone in refusing to answer some of our questions, we had no choice but to dock points from the manufacturer's scorecard. Overall, though, Lenovo's agents are amicable and informed, and its website is an invaluable resource.

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