August 8, 2006

Peripheral Warranties:

With computer printers and monitors, older technologies frequently get longer warranties than new. And while one would think higher prices mean longer warranties, that doesn't seem to be the case.


As is the custom with truck engines, transmissions and chassis, computer monitors and printers usually carry their own warranties, separate and distinct from the central processing unit to which they attach. That is, unless the CPU is a notebook or tablet PC, in which case the monitor is built into the package.

In our continuing tour of the warranted product landscape, this week we take a look at the surprising variations in two types of computer peripherals: printers and monitors. What's most surprising is that, depending upon the vendor, the product's warranty can last anywhere from 90 days to four years. And the products carrying the longest warranties aren't always the most expensive or the most richly-featured.

What's also surprising is that sometimes, the most expensive units in a particular vendor's product line carry shorter warranties than some of the midrange units. For instance, with LCD computer monitors in particular, a 23-inch screen might have a shorter warranty than a 17-inch screen, and it might cost two or three times as much. And some of the longest warranties are attached to the old tube-type CRT monitors, which frequently are among the cheapest units of all.

Oldest Technologies Last Longest?

It's as if the manufacturers are telling us that CRT monitors last the longest and are the cheapest to make. LCD models cost more and don't last as long, and the largest LCDs cost the most and have the shortest lives.

A similar story can be seen with printers. What some call impact printers and others call dot-matrix printers are the oldest technology on the market. Yet some have the longest warranties in a given product line, along with some of the lowest prices. Ink jet models are somewhat more expensive, and LED or laser printers are the most expensive of all. Yet there are numerous cases of units priced well over $1,000 that carry one-year warranties, and there are a handful of units priced at a few hundred dollars that carry two- or even three-year warranties.

Let's start with monitors. The list that follows contains a sampling of the wares of 12 of the largest computer monitor vendors. The vendors are listed alphabetically. Their products are listed in ascending order, based first on the length of their warranties, and then on their price. But the prices aren't listed, because some are manufacturers' list prices while others are actual retail process. And some of those prices include rebates. And this is not a shopper's guide as much as it is a warranty guide.

In addition, none of these lists are comprehensive. What we tried to do was collect a representative sample of CRT, LCD, and plasma units -- low end and high end, small screen and large screen -- to illustrate a the variations in a given company's warranty periods. In some cases, all a given company's units carry the same warranty period. Some feature on-site repairs and/or exchanges, while others require drop-offs or mail-aways. So while it appears that three years is the standard monitor warranty, there are other differences for a customer to consider.

One Warranty Fits All

In the following list, six vendors assign the same warranty period to all their monitors while the other six blend a mixture of one-, two-, three-, and even some four-year warranties. It was somewhat surprising to not find any monitors with 90-day warranties, because there are some such cases in the television category that we'll get around to detailing in a future consumer electronics list. Also unlike in the consumer electronics industry, there were no monitors found that carried different warranty periods for parts and labor.

However, there were a handful of cases where specific components carried shorter warranties than the rest of the unit. For instance, Sony offers a two-year warranty on parts and labor for some of its large LCD and plasma display models, but only a one-year warranty on the actual screen. Rather than load this list up with asterisks and footnotes, we listed just the overall parts and labor warranty periods.

And then there were a few vendors that went into some detail about exactly when a defect becomes a warranty claim. Samsung, for instance, has a specific policy concerning the point at which bad pixels rise to the level of a warrantable repair or replacement. "Since a 15 inch LCD display contains 2,359,296 pixels, a 19 inch LCD display contains 3,932,160 pixels, and a 24 inch LCD display contains 6,912,000 pixels, having a few bad pixels is not considered a defect," the company states. For it to be considered a defect, a 15-inch monitor must have at least seven bad pixels. A 17- or 19-inch model must have at least 10 bad pixels, and a 21- to 24-inch monitor must have 17 or more bad pixels.

Computer Monitor Warranties

  Brand, Make & Model   Description     Warranty (years)
  Acer AC713b CRT monitor 3
  Acer AL1716 LCD monitor 3
  Acer AL1951C LCD monitor 3
  Acer AL1923r LCD monitor 3
  Acer Ferrari F-20 LCD monitor 3
  Acer AL2032W A LCD monitor 3
     
  Apple Cinema Display M9177LL/A LCD monitor 1
  Apple Cinema Display M9178LL/A LCD monitor 1
  Apple Cinema Display M9179LL/A LCD monitor 1
     
  Gateway FPD1565 LCD monitor 1
  Gateway FPD1765 LCD monitor 1
  Gateway FPD1975W LCD monitor 1
  Gateway FPD2185W LCD monitor 1
  Gateway FPD1785 LCD monitor 3
  Gateway FPD1985 LCD monitor 3
     
  HP Compaq FS7600e CRT monitor 1
  HP vs15 LCD monitor 1
  HP f2105 LCD monitor 1
  HP s7540 CRT monitor 3
  HP v7650 CRT monitor 3
  HP L1506 flat panel 3
  HP L1755 LCD monitor 3
     
  Lenovo L151 LCD monitor 3
  Lenovo ThinkVision L192p LCD monitor 3
     
  LG L1717S-BN LCD monitor 3
  LG L1780Q LCD monitor 3
  LG L1720PQ LCD monitor 3
  LG L194WT LCD monitor 3
  LG L203WT LCD monitor 3
  LG L204WT-SF LCD monitor 3
  LG L2000C LCD monitor 3
  LG L3200TF LCD monitor 3
  LG L2323T LCD monitor 3
     
  NEC MultiSync LCD2335WXM LCD monitor 1
  NEC MultiSync LCD2335WXM LCD monitor 1
  NEC AccuSync AS500 CRT monitor 3
  NEC MultiSync FE772M-BK CRT monitor 3
  NEC AccuSync AS900-BK CRT monitor 3
  NEC AccuSync LCD52V LCD monitor 3
  NEC MultiSync 1740CX LCD monitor 3
  NEC MultiSync 70GX2-BK LCD monitor 3
  NEC MultiSync 1940CX LCD monitor 3
  NEC AccuSync AS120-BK CRT monitor 3
  NEC MultiSync 20WMGX2-BK LCD monitor 3
  NEC LCD3210-BK LCD monitor 3
  NEC LCD4010-BK LCD monitor 3
  NEC LCD4610-BK-IT LCD monitor 3
  NEC MultiSync LCD1990SXi LCD monitor 4
  NEC MultiSync LCD2090UXi LCD monitor 4
  NEC MultiSync LCD2190UXi LCD monitor 4
     
  Planar XP37W LCD monitor 1
  Planar PD42ED plasma 1
  Planar DS15 retail display 1
  Planar PE1500 LCD monitor 3
  Planar PL1700M LCD monitor 3
  Planar PE171 LCD monitor 3
  Planar PL1911M LCD monitor 3
  Planar PT1501MU LCD monitor 3
  Planar PX2320MW LCD monitor 3
  Planar WS231 LCD monitor 3
     
  Samsung SyncMaster 793DF CRT monitor 3
  Samsung SyncMaster 920N LCD monitor 3
  Samsung SyncMaster 931B LCD monitor 3
  Samsung SyncMaster 713BM LCD monitor 3
  Samsung SyncMaster 1100DF CRT monitor 3
  Samsung SyncMaster 204T LCD monitor 3
  Samsung SyncMaster 460P LCD monitor 3
     
  Sony FWD-42PV1/B plasma 2
  Sony FWD-32LX1/B LCD monitor 2
  Sony FWD-42LX1/W LCD monitor 2
  Sony HS-Series SDM-HS75/B LCD monitor 3
  Sony HS-Series SDM-HS75P/B LCD monitor 3
  Sony HS-Series SDM-HS95/B LCD monitor 3
  Sony HS-Series SDM-HS95P/B LCD monitor 3
  Sony StylePro SDM-S205FB LCD monitor 3
  Sony PremierPro SDM-P234/B LCD monitor 3
     
  3M Privacy Monitor LCD monitor 3
  3M MicroTouch M150 LCD touch screen 3
  3M MicroTouch CT150 touch screen 3
  3M MicroTouch M170 LCD touch screen 3
  3M MicroTouch ChassisTouch touch screen 3
     
  ViewSonic Optiquest Q7b LCD monitor 1
  ViewSonic X Series VX710 LCD monitor 1
  ViewSonic Optiquest Q9b LCD monitor 1
  ViewSonic Value Series VA503b LCD monitor 3
  ViewSonic Graphic Series VG720 LCD monitor 3
  ViewSonic Graphic Series VG2021m LCD monitor 3
  ViewSonic Value Series VA2012wb LCD monitor 3
  ViewSonic Pro Series VP171s LCD monitor 3
  ViewSonic X Series VX2025wm LCD monitor 3
  ViewSonic Pro Series VP231wb LCD monitor 3
     

There were a few curious cases among these entries. For instance, HP sells the FS7600e for $100 with a one-year warranty, and sells the s7540 and the v7650 for $139 and $159, respectively. The first carries a one-year warranty, while the second and third carry a three-year term, despite their comparable bargain prices. Meanwhile, all four HP flat screens carry higher list prices than any of the CRT units, yet only two of them have three-year warranties. However, most of these differences have more to do with the way HP segments its products into separate business and consumer lines. The company assures Warranty Week that it has nothing to do with the relative reliabilities of tube vs. flat screen.

Gateway's FPD2185W monitor carries a $500 list price and a one-year warranty, while the FPD1785 and FPD1985 sell for less and have longer warranties. NEC gives all its 15- to 20-inch screens a three- or four-year warranty, but its 23-inch units get only a year. ViewSonic has a "value series" unit that sells for $179 yet has a three-year warranty, and has three units priced higher than that which carry a one-year warranty.

Planar has six units selling for less than $1,000 and four selling for more, but three of those four carry only a one-year warranty, including the largest of all, the 42-inch PD42ED plasma display. It's a similar story at Sony, where three large screens sell for $2,000 and up with a two-year warranty, and five sell for less than $1,000 yet carry a three-year warranty. And unlike NEC, Sony gives its 23-inch SDM-P234/B unit a three-year warranty.

Printer Warranties

It gets even more curious with computer printers. Here, we did find a unit with only a 90-day warranty, and both came from Dell Inc. Granted, the units also are bargains with list prices below $100, but Epson, Canon, HP, and Lexmark have each assigned at least one-year warranties to their sub-$100 units. No doubt, such a short warranty makes it easier to sell an extended service plan, but then the unit's no longer such a bargain.

This list also is displayed in alphabetical order in terms of vendors, and then in ascending order for warranty periods and prices. That's why Oki's Microline 320 Turbo impact printer is listed first, because its $156 street price is the lowest in the line. But notice that its Microline 590 and 421 impact printers are listed last, because of their respective two- and three-year warranties. This happens in spite of their $249 and $309 street prices, which are lower than six of the eight units that carry one-year warranties.

Unlike with computer monitors, there aren't many printers that carry a three-year warranty. In fact, the Brother and Canon units with three-year warranties are so-called all-in-one units that combine printer, copier, scanner, and sometimes fax functionality. But there are numerous other vendors whose all-in-one units carry only one-year warranties. And there are 13 printers and/or all-in-ones with list or street prices above $1,000 that carry only one-year warranties, including the Lexmark X854e MFP, priced at $16,999; the Oki C9800hdn color laser printer, priced at $6,111; and the Xerox Phaser 7750 color laser printer, priced at $6,799.

And then there are the numerous exceptions to the stated warranty periods. Brother International covers some of its high-end printers and all-in-one devices with a three-year warranty, but it will allow for an exchange of a defective unit for only the first two years. During the third year, the unit must be dropped off for a repair.

In a more positive direction, some of the units with three-year warranties have five-year terms for certain components. And there were a few units that limited their warranties in terms of both time and usage, so that a heavily-used unit could go out of warranty long before its 12 months is up. As with computer monitors, though, there were no units found that covered parts and labor for different periods.

Computer Printer Warranties

  Brand, Make & Model   Description     Warranty (years)
  Brother HL-2040 laser printer 1
  Brother HL-2070N laser printer 1
  Brother HL-5140 laser printer 1
  Brother DCP-7020 all in one 1
  Brother HL-6050D laser printer 1
  Brother HL-2700CN color laser 1
  Brother HL-6050DW wireless laser 1
  Brother HL-4200CN color laser 1
  Brother DCP-8060 all in one 1
  Brother DCP-8045D all in one 1
     
  Canon PIXMA iP1700 color printer 1
  Canon PIXMA iP4000 color printer 1
  Canon PIXMA MP150 all in one 1
  Canon PIXMA MP750 all in one 1
  Canon SELPHY DS810 photo printer 1
  Canon PIXMA iP90 color printer 1
  Canon FaxPhone L120 all in one 1
  Canon PIXMA MP950 all in one 1
  Canon MultiPass F50 all in one 1
  Canon imageClass D880 all in one 3
     
  Dell All-In-One 810 all in one 0.25
  Dell Laser 1110 laser printer 0.25
  Dell Photo All-In-One 964 photo printer 1
  Dell Laser 3010cn laser printer 1
     
  Epson Stylus CX3810 all in one 1
  Epson Stylus C88 ink jet printer 1
  Epson Stylus Photo R220 photo printer 1
  Epson Stylus Photo RX700 all in one 1
  Epson Stylus Photo 1280 photo printer 1
  Epson AcuLaser CX11NF color laser 1
  Epson Stylus Photo R2400 photo printer 1
  Epson LX-300+ impact printer 2
  Epson FX-890N impact printer 3
     
  HP Deskjet 3930 ink jet printer 1
  HP Photosmart C3180 all in one 1
  HP Officejet 4315 all in one 1
  HP LaserJet 1018 laser printer 1
  HP Deskjet 6940dt ink jet printer 1
  HP Photosmart 3310 all in one 1
  HP Officejet 9130 all in one 1
  HP LaserJet 5200dtn laser printer 1
     
  Kodak EasyShare 300 photo printer 1
  Kodak ES Printer Dock photo printer 1
  Kodak EasyShare G600 photo printer 1
  Kodak EasyShare 500 photo printer 1
  Kodak ES Printer Dock Plus photo printer 1
     
  Konica Minolta PagePro 1400W laser printer 1
  Konica Minolta PagePro 1380 MF all in one 1
  Konica Minolta magicolor 2400W color laser 1
  Konica Minolta magicolor 2480 MF all in one 1
  Konica Minolta PagePro 9100 N laser printer 1
  Konica Minolta magicolor 7450 color laser 1
     
  Lexmark Z611 ink jet printer 1
  Lexmark X1270 all in one 1
  Lexmark P915 photo printer 1
  Lexmark P315 photo printer 1
  Lexmark X342N all in one 1
  Lexmark C500n color laser 1
  Lexmark T644 laser printer 1
  Lexmark Forms Printer 4227 plus dot matrix 1
  Lexmark W840 laser printer 1
  Lexmark C920 color laser 1
  Lexmark X854e MFP all in one 1
  Lexmark Forms Printer 2480 dot matrix 1
     
  Oki Microline 320 Turbo impact printer 1
  Oki B4350 laser printer 1
  Oki C3200n color laser 1
  Oki C5500n color laser 1
  Oki C5510n MFP all in one 1
  Oki B8300n laser printer 1
  Oki ES1624n all in one 1
  Oki C9800hdn color laser 1
  Oki Microline 590 impact printer 2
  Oki Microline 421 impact printer 3
     
  Olympus P-11 photo printer 1
  Olympus D-555/ILP-100 camera/printer 1
     
  Samsung SPP-2040 photo printer 1
  Samsung ML-2010 laser printer 1
  Samsung CLP-510N color laser 1
  Samsung SCX-4720F all in one 2
     
  Xerox Phaser 6120 color ink jet 1
  Xerox Phaser 3150 laser printer 1
  Xerox Phaser 6300 color ink jet 1
  Xerox Phaser 5500 laser printer 1
  Xerox Phaser 7400 color laser 1
  Xerox Phaser 7750 color laser 1
     

Some of the manufacturers sell direct through their Web sites, while most also use retailers and/or dealers to move their product. Most of the vendors also sell service contracts -- some on their own behalf and others on behalf of third parties. We'd suspect they're more successful selling service contracts for printers than for monitors, which are perceived to be more reliable and longer-lasting. It's much the same case with notebooks and desktops, although ironically some of the perils expected for notebooks (drops, spills, etc.) are not covered under any traditional extended warranty plans (but are covered by accidental damage policies).

Finally, we must note that while most of the vendors did in fact list their warranty policies along with other product specs, some made no mention of their warranty policies at all. And some of those who omitted such a mention nevertheless found room in their spec sheets to detail their extended warranty offerings. Also, some included warranty as the last spec of all, though we hope that had more to do with its alphabetical ranking than its importance to the customer.


Other Stops on the Warranty Tour

Automotive Warranties


Computer Warranties


Consumer Electronics






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