Apple has lost its place at the top of Laptop Mag's annual ranking of the best notebook brands after six years, with the MacBook producer dropping down to joint-fifth place, after being penalized over the high cost of its products and the apparent need to acquire dongles to expand its connectivity.
In the 2017 list of the publication's Best & Worst Laptop Brands, Lenovo rose three places to take first place, the position Apple has occupied on the chart since the list debuted in 2010. Asus, HP, and Acer all gained ground in the table, to second, fourth, and fifth respectively, while Dell joined Apple in losing ground, moving from second to third.
According to the report card, Apple scored 78 out of a possible 100 points. The company scored relatively highly across many of the categories, with support and warranty categories considered to be "second to none," but in the Value and Selection category it scored a low 6 out of 15.
In the explanation of why Apple was scored low, it is claimed there is not as much "value and variety" as other vendors, offering "only a handful of laptops, and most start at $1,299."
"If you're looking for an affordable laptop, don't look at Apple," writes the publication. "Featuring just five systems spread across three lines with the least expensive starting at $999, Apple doesn't exactly have a wide range of computers to choose from.
The report goes on to note that the MacBook Air hasn't received a refresh in "over two years," and that it "wouldn't be surprised if the company phased it out soon." Apple is also criticized for not offering a 2-in-1 notebook or one with a touchscreen, excluding the Touch Bar on the latest MacBook Pro models.
Editor in chief Mark Spoonauer suggests the decision to discontinue the 11-inch MacBook Air as the smallest notebook was poor, with the 12-inch MacBook thought to be too expensive as a viable alternative. The use of older-generation processors is also brought up, with the 13-inch Air using a 5th-generation Intel Core processor while the market uses 7th-generation chips, and the use of underpowered Core m3 and m5 processors.
Spoonauer is also not satisfied with Apple's current marketing of the iPad Pro as an affordable notebook replacement. "There's no touchpad on this machine's optional keyboard," he argues, before insisting "iOS simply isn't as good as macOS for multitasking."
On the subject of USB Type-C, it is suggested on the scorecard that users need a "bagful of dongles" to use the newer MacBooks in the summary. In the more detailed explanation, the "lack of port options" is said to have hampered the MacBook and 13-inch MacBook Pro review scores.
For the 13 out of 15 score for design, Apple has been declared the "rose-gold standard," due to the 12-inch MacBook's rose gold variant's existence, though the lack of other color options is noted. Apple's continued development of thin, light notebooks helped buoy the score in the category.
Apple's support is also praised as the standard bearer for the industry, with easy-to-navigate support pages and helpful support agents, though with a lack of support via FaceBook. The company also gains the maximum points available in Warranty, the smallest point-scoring category, for giving face-to-face support via the Apple Store Genius Bar.
The superior Apple support was highlighted in another report published in March, with Apple scoring 93 out of 100 and topping the rankings for the third year in a row.