Apple and Hewlett-Packard have been commended for their technical support help lines by the newly-launched ON magazine.

Apple would have received a perfect score if ON editors had received "a clear answer on the monitor issue", referring to the question on how work could be divided between two monitors.

ON is a new technology title published in the USA by the Time Magazine group. To assess the Tech support hotlines, ON used new laptops from Apple, Compaq, Dell, Gateway, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sony and Toshiba.

The magazine asked two questions about getting started with a new computer. A third dealt with an easy to repair software glitch planted by magazine staff. A reporter called the company help lines at three different times of day during both peak and off-peak hours. Companies were rated by hold time, call length and quality of service.

Hewlett-Packard and IBM's tech support helplines were also highly-rated. Compaq, Dell and Toshiba were not, mostly due to lengthy waiting times.