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Toshiba and Acer are two of the largest laptop manufacturers in the world. They both focus heavily on the mainstream consumer market - laptops costing between $350 and $1000. Both companies have a major presence at most North American retailers. This means that if you walk into a store today to buy a laptop you're likely to end up comparing Toshiba and Acer models.
Which begs the question - what brand is best? In this article we'll dive into the Toshiba vs Acer laptops battle and render a verdict.
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Design and Build Quality
Toshiba and Acer both cater to the same laptop market, so there is actually some similarity in how they design their laptops. Both companies tend to re-use a laptop chassis between different models, which means you might find a $350 laptop and a $650 laptop with the same appearance but different hardware. Also, both companies make a variety of laptops between 10.1" netbooks and 17" desktop replacement behemoths. Toshiba even offers a gaming line known as Qosimo that offers an 18.4" display.
Despite these similarities, Toshiba build quality is often a bit better than Acer's. The keyboards of Toshiba's laptops are not the best in he business, but they're certainly better than the cheap-feeling chiclet keyboard found on many Acer laptops. Most Toshiba laptops feel a bit more solid than those made by Acer when the chassis is stressed, as well.
Both of these companies do make concessions in order to meet a given price point, but Toshiba wins this category overall.
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The hardware specifications of Toshiba and Acer laptops are generally similar. Both build numerous Intel laptops based on everything from Atom to Intel Core i7. The only major difference is Acer's use of some AMD processors in their mid-range laptops. Toshiba usually doesn't place AMD processors in these products - instead, they strictly use AMD processors in ultraportables and in budget-oriented laptops ($500 or under).
Given the hardware similarities, it's not terribly surprising to find that neither company has an advantage when it comes to value. Both laptop manufacturers offer laptops in the sub-$500 range, and both offer surprisingly well equipped laptops above $700 with features like discrete graphics. The only possible edge might go to Toshiba, because it does offer a Qosimo gaming laptop for around $1000. Acer does not sell any laptops designed specifically for gaming.
Overall, this part of the competition must end in a tie.
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The reliability data for laptops is always sketchy, but it does exist. Squaretrade came out with a very detailed report about laptop reliability in 2009, and Consumer Reports also routinely surveys its subscribers to find out how their laptops have fared.
Unfortunately, the data from these sources is no longer in agreement. About a year ago, both sources essentially agree that Toshiba fared very well in reliability and Acer was a poor performer. However, the latest Consumer Reports data indicates that Acer's reliability is on the upswing. In fact, it's now at the top with Toshiba.
Given that we have two sources stating that Toshiba offers great reliability and only one source that has just recently found Acer to be reliable, I'm going to give Toshiba the nod.
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So, which brand of laptop do I think you should check into first?
I give the victory to Toshiba. While both of these companies make competitive laptops, those from Toshiba are just a little nicer and the reliability data is a bit more convincing. Given that a laptop from either company is likely to have a similar price, Toshiba seems the way to go.
Smidgen PC: Laptop Reliability Ratings
Consumer Reports: Consumer Reports Online (Members Only Access)