I recommend contacting the in-house repair person/people at one or
more large pharmaceutical laboratories, as it is not unusual for such
labs to have mass specs of different manufacturers. They will not
know about the most recent models (no one will), but at least you'll
know the track record of the various makers. I did this in 2002 and
decided on Sciex for a triple quad.
Reliability in the sense of "it doesn't break down?" I think the
answer will also depend on the application. Reliability not only
varies among models, but among types of instruments. More complex
instruments have more parts that might need maintenance.
I own a 3rd party mass spec service company. Some more advice for
you: check with the OEM prior to buying the mass spec to see if they
will sell you parts or provide technical info. Also check to see if
there are any third-party service organizations for the MS you are
considering. With LC MS you will need to setup a cleaning schedule to
maintain performance. You should buy an instrument that you can
service/PM easily. If you are going to buy a new MS ask that your
sales person include service training, or at least the training
necessary to do a PM.
In the future if you need a MALDI-TOF for QC, and you are not running
thousands of samples a day buy a Voyager DE, DE PRO, or DE STR MALDI-
TOF. They are very reliable and there are several 3rd party companies
(including ours) that provide service, sales, and support. The OEM is
still supporting these instruments through 2013, and JBI Scientific
www.jbiscientific.com provides all parts and support necessary to
maintain these instruments.
If you're buying from a third party, don't forget the software license. If
you don't buy one, you may not get service from the vendor.