The Technology Excellence Awards 2017: We crown the best brands and pick the top products of the year
The UK has more than its fair share of prestigious award ceremonies. Actors have the BAFTAs, musicians have the BRITs – and for the tech enthusiasts, gadget geeks, and IT professionals, there are the TEAs: the Technology Excellence Awards.
But while those famous UK awards are all decided behind closed doors, the Technology Excellence Awards are different: we don’t decide the winners, you do. Each and every year, thousands of readers across PC Pro, Alphr and Expert Reviews take part in a comprehensive three-month survey to have their say and decide which manufacturers provide the perfect balance of reliability, service, performance and quality that means they deserve to take home the prized gongs.
How are the Technology Excellence Awards decided?
In short, by you. We ask how satisfied you are with the quality of prints, reliability of your broadband, battery life of your laptop – and collate the figures to create a nuanced report as to how you think each company performs across a range of relevant key criteria such as reliability, customer service, value for money and ease of use.
The maximum score a company can receive is 100%, where a reader declares themselves “very satisfied” with, say, customer support for their desktop PC. If they merely select satisfied, that’s 80%. And so on, until they reach “very dissatisfied”, which is 0%. So a score of 90% could be 50 people saying very satisfied (100%) and 50 saying satisfied (80%). We need feedback from at least 50 buyers of a brand to produce a result we’re happy to publish. If you want to see the detailed breakdown of this year’s scores then pop to the shops and pick up issue 278 of PC Pro where you’ll find the results posted in full.
We also use methods to protect against “stuffing” – that is, where a manufacturer may try to bias results by encouraging only positive feedback – so you can be sure that these results are based on bona-fide customer feedback. The result is scores you can trust.
How do you select the Products of the Year winners?
These are chosen by our most trusted editors and contributors across PC Pro, Alphr and Expert Reviews. After hours of debate and deliberation, we whittle down the shortlist to decide upon the stand-out products from the hundreds we’ve tested over the past 12 months. You’ll find our pick of the most exceptional laptops, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches and more on page 2.
BEST LAPTOP BRAND: Asus
In a reflection of its growing stature as a laptop brand, it’s fitting that 2017 is the year that Asus – for the first time – wins the Best Laptop Brand award. The company’s UX300 series has been a regular award-winner, and a stalwart on the PC Pro A-List for the past two years, and it seems that readers agree: “The Asus ZenBook UX305 is an excellent slim and light laptop,” wrote William Dow, adding that as the specs have been upgraded he’ll “likely buy again soon”.
BEST TABLET BRAND: Apple
It’s no surprise that Apple has retained the Best Tablet Brand crown, with customers singing the praises of the plus-sized iPad Pro in particular: “My iPad Pro with 128GB and a big and clear screen has everything to offer that my laptop and desktop can do… the iPad offers everyday functions and I no longer use the laptop since the iPad came on the market,” wrote Stephen Tortolano.
However, Microsoft wasn’t far behind in second place, earning it a Recommended award. It even beat Apple in the battery life and accessories categories, but just lost out for speed, reliability and ease of use.
BEST PHONE BRAND: Google
In the clash of the smartphone titans, Android came out firmly on top with Google and OnePlus pushing Apple’s iPhone into third place. A key battleground was ease of use: “[Google’s] Pixel XL is one of the best phones I have ever owned,” explained customer David Taylor. “I only use Android phones and having pure Google without the OEM [original equipment manufacturer] bloatware is also an experience that will take some convincing to move away from.”
BEST SMARTWATCH BRAND: Garmin
RECOMMENDED: Apple, Fitbit
Some people love their smartwatches. And going by what many of them said in their comments, smartwatches are best suited to people who use them for running and fitness, rather than as an extension to their phone. “Great device,” wrote Boyd Park of his Garmin. “Wear and train with it every day.”
BEST CLOUD STORAGE: Dropbox, Google Drive
If the tussle for best cloud storage had been a football match, it would have been a gruelling, muddy 1-1. There was little to separate the two rivals, which scored identically for ease of use and whether you would recommend them to friends, family and colleagues. The only wafer-thin difference came in speed, with your comments suggesting that Google Drive is the slightly quicker service. A replay might be in order.
BEST PC BRAND: Chillblast
RECOMMENDED: PC Specialist
While multi-national companies pick up the awards in almost every other category of our awards, when it comes to buying desktop PCs, British companies Chillblast and PC Specialist dominate. While they both performed very well for speed, reliability and value for money, it’s customer service that appears to win people’s hearts. “This was my second PC from Chillblast,” wrote Alan Millar from Edinburgh. “On both occasions, from the first call to its arrival, nothing was too much trouble… Great customer support at a sensible price.”
BEST ONLINE RETAILER: Scan
RECOMMENDED: Amazon, John Lewis, Overclockers UK
The online retailer category is the most hotly contested of them all, so well done to Scan for fending off stern challenges from big names such as Amazon and John Lewis. The Bolton-based company performed particularly well in the holy trinity: customer support if things went wrong, speed of delivery and tracking information. “I just think Scan has that little je ne sais quoi about it that’s hard to explain,” wrote James Winnard, “but you know it puts them ahead of the competition. 10/10.”
It’s also pleasing to see that smaller British firms – Overclockers UK, Novatech and CCL Online – were challenging for top honours, with readers praising the high quality of their customer service.
BEST NAS BRAND: Synology
In the era of the cloud services, NAS might be considered something of an anachronism – but many of you still place a high value on local storage, and Synology is still the brand you trust the most. 90%+ scores in every category, bar value for money, suggests that the reliability and speed of Synology products come at a premium, but one worth paying. “Simply amazing,” wrote Richard White. “We’ve ditched our server and bought two Synology NAS devices, one for off-site sync.”
The Technology Excellence awards: Best of the rest
BEST BROADBAND: Zen Internet
BEST ROUTER BRAND: DrayTek
RECOMMENDED: AVM Fritz!Box
BEST MOBILE DATA: GiffGaff
RECOMMENDED: Tesco Mobile
BEST MONITOR BRAND: Iiyama
RECOMMENDED: Asus, BenQ
BEST WEB HOST: Zen Internet
BEST PRINTER BRAND: Brother, Samsung
Head on over to page 2 to discover Alphr, PC Pro and Expert Reviews’ picks for Products of the Year