Canon no longer dominates the digital camera category, suffering a dramatic drop-off in consumer approval in our survey this year compared with its performance in last year's survey. In 2007, Canon smoked the competition with above-average scores in eight of nine categories; this year, it earned just two such marks. Still, the pluses were on a couple of important measures: Our readers reported relatively few out-of-box problems with Canon cameras, and said that they were quite satisfied with the cameras overall.
This time, however, other vendors did just as well. Fujifilm and Panasonic, for instance, won kudos in two reliability categories. Kodak earned praise for its cameras' usability and dependability, but got dinged on a service measure (resolving customer issues). Nikon's results were a mirror image of Kodak's: Survey participants said that it was great at fixing user problems, but complained that its cameras were relatively difficult to use and had a higher-than-average number of serious glitches.
Hewlett-Packard received low marks on two reliability measures, but its cameras still scored a bit better than they did last year, when it earned four below-average grades. Where's the improvement? HP cameras are now easier to use and more reliable, readers say, though serious and out-of-box problems remain irritants.
Overall, the best news about digital cameras is that they were the most reliable peripheral assessed in our survey. More than three-fourths of readers said that they were either very satisfied or extremely satisfied with their cameras. Less than one-eighth of survey respondents reported encountering one or more significant problems with their cameras. By comparison, a third of desktop and laptop users had major problems with their devices.
Other Categories, Other Charts
For charts and discussions of the other product categories covered in our 2008 reliability and service survey, follow the links below to the appropriate pages.