There are not many objective measures of the customer service provided by PC vendors. One of the few worthwhile scorecards is the annual Laptop Magazine tech support showdown, which takes twelve of the biggest names in the industry and faces them with the typical tech support queries to see how they fare against each other. The results for 2010 are now in and, for the most part, they seem fairly consistent over previous years.

Apple remains at the top of the heap and was the only company to receive an overall grade of A. HP and Lenovo are tied for second place and each earned a B+. Lenovo's placement is not a surprise, as they have done well in Laptop Magazine's prior tests, but HP's results represent a huge improvement over the C- the company received in 2009. At the bottom of the pile you'll find Acer and Gateway, both of which were slapped with a D+. The identical scores are not surprising either, as Gateway has been a subsidiary of Acer for several years.

Tech support seems to be getting worse overall. No company earned lower than a C- in the previous year, and the number of scores below a B- has increased by one. On top of that, the report described a "disturbing trend" in which several of the companies apparently refused to answer questions unless they were strictly related to broken hardware, pitching some fairly pricey support packages instead. Web support seems to be the most serious issue as Asus, Fujitsu, Gateway, MSI and Samsung all received a D or F in this category.