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Tech Support Showdown 2010

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



Toshiba Tech Support Results
Hold Time Minimum<1 minute
Hold Time Maximum<10
Average Call Length<12
Phone Grade 2010B
Web Grade 2010C
Overall Grade 2010B-
Overall Grade 2009B
Overall Grade 2008B


Toshiba did not claim any improvements to their technical support over last year's above average performance, and we didn't notice any. In fact, we were unsuccessful in getting answers to some of our questions both online and over the phone. As web support goes, Toshiba's site is pretty straightforward, containing a well-stocked searchable database of answers. We started by clicking Product Support and indicating our specific model. That took us to a page separated into sections, including Detailed Specs, Downloads, Product Tour, Support Bulletins, and User's Guide; some were more helpful than others.

The Support Bulletins section is open as the default. This area tells you what problems or glitches have recently been fixed by downloadable utilities or driver updates, and offers step-by-step instructions for updating your system. Downloads is where you'll find those patches. Detailed Specs listed the specifications for our model, and Product Tour showcased an interactive look at the system. The User's Guide opened a PDF manual for our computer, where we found the answer to our battery life question and the power settings question.

Without telling the site what type of system we were using, there are still options for Windows 7 support and laptop forums, where other users have asked questions. We were unable to find the answer to our HomeGroup issue in the Windows 7 Support area, and although there is a Networking & Wi-Fi section of the forum, we didn't see an answer there either. Searching with keywords offered mixed results: "change power settings" provided multiple hits on different ways to accomplish this task. But "homegroup" returned no results, and "start/boot faster" returned a confusing array of documents that didn't prove helpful, including directions for Microsoft Office Fast Start and how to disable Windows 98 fast shutdown.

Phone support was also a mixed bag. When we first dialed Toshiba around 4 p.m. (EST), an automated phone tree asked for our notebook's serial number after we selected technical support. We then waited on hold for 3 minutes. Becky from the Philippines answered our call to assist us with booting our notebook faster, but then put us on hold for another 3 minutes. Upon her return she told us Toshiba was updating their systems, and we were put on hold again for 6 more minutes. Becky then accurately advised us remove items from the startup section of Windows' system configuration utility, but she didn't specify which items to remove.

Call two, where we inquired about sharing files across two Windows 7 laptops, occurred around 8 p.m. After passing the standard set of initial questions (department of choice, serial number, etc.) we were put on hold for 40 seconds. The time was filled with troubleshooting information--an efficient use of otherwise dead airtime. Ruel from India said we needed to call our Internet service provider to set that up. So, we called back and instead requested the Wireless Troubleshooting department instead of technical support. But that section of phone assistance is only filled with automated responses to common wireless problems, and made no mention of HomeGroup or Windows 7.

After dealing with Toshiba's automated gatekeeper on our third call, we were put on hold for about a minute and a half at 1 p.m. We asked Oscar from the Philippines to assist with changing our notebook's power settings. He was quite helpful, walking us through opening the Control Panel while explaining what options were available.

Overall, we found Toshiba's support to be better than average, but not great. On the web we were able to address some issues, but not others. Over the phone, Toshiba reps did not offer any help in one case, but resolved two of our other problems.

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