Apple's desktops and laptops have topped an ease-of-use poll conducted by Which? Magazine.

Among Apple's UK customers, 72 per cent felt the company's desktops - Power Mac G4, G4 Cube and iMac - were very, or fairly, easy to set up.

The company's laptops (PowerBook and iBook) also won praise, with 66 per cent of laptop users saying they felt their computer was very or fairly easy to set up. 63 per cent of Sony's laptop customers and 34 per cent of Compaq's customers felt the same way about their machines.

Tell a friend 83 per cent of Apple's laptop customers and 68 per cent of its desktop users would definitely recommend Apple.

67 per cent of Apple's desktop and 73 per cent of its laptop customers were very satisfied with their computer's reliability.

An Apple spokesman said: "Seemingly, this is the biggest survey the Consumer's Association has ever done of the UK computer market."

In related news, Apple and Dell received the highest marks in ZDNet's Support Star awards yesterday. This recognizes computer manufacturers with "demonstrated superiority in technical support". Winners were selected in a survey of 25,000 volunteers, which looked at three categories: online support, phone support and overall customer support.

Wait The Which? report told a different story. Only 31 per cent of Apple customers and 21 per cent of Dell's got through to someone immediately when they rang telephone support.

Once through, only 26 per cent of Apple's UK customers, and 25 per cent of Dell's said the quality of service of the helpline was good or very good.

According to ZDNet, Sina Tamaddon, Apple's senior vice president of service and support, said: "Customer satisfaction is extremely important to Apple. We work very hard to enhance the overall customer experience with our contact centres, and new initiatives like Knowledge Base, which enables customers to find answers to their product questions via the Web.''

Daivd Miller, Apple UK spokesman, added: "We've been evolving our products in the UK to improve support. The support agents are based near, and trained by, the people at our Cork manufacturing plant. The Knowledge Base also helps people get to the root of any problems."