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updated 3/19/2008 5:53:09 PM ET 2008-03-19T21:53:09

Dell Inc. denies an analyst report claiming 20 percent to 30 percent of laptops with so-called solid-state drives are being returned.

Solid-state drives, though expensive, are seen as the next big advance in laptop computers because they're durable and light. In a solid state drive, the spinning platter of a conventional hard drive has been replaced by memory chips.

Dell offers Samsung SSDs as an option on its laptops for $600 to $899 extra. The latest Apple Inc. laptop, the MacBook Air, can also be bought with an SSD, for about $1,000 extra.

Avian Securities analyst Avi Cohen said Monday in reporting on the return rates that hardware failure rates on SSDs were 10 percent to 12 percent, compared to 1 percent to 2 percent for traditional hard drives. Still other customers are returning SSD-equipped laptops because they don't provide a speed advantage, Cohen wrote in a research report.

The "rates cited by Avian Securities don't even vaguely resemble what's happening in our business," Lionel Menchaca, Dell's chief blogger, wrote on Wednesday.

"Our global reliability data shows that SSD drives are equal to or better than traditional hard disk drives we've shipped," Menchaca wrote. The return rate is about a tenth of the reported one, he wrote.

Cohen acknowledged the rebuttal and said he was sticking to the main contention of his report — that the market likely won't see shipments of the next generation of cheaper, and probably less reliable, SSDs this year.

Samsung Semiconductor representatives declined to comment on the report, referring questions to Dell.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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