The first of my articles in the series The Big Microcontroller Question deals with getting samples from the manufacturers.
Just to remind you, the players are Atmel, Freescale (Motorola) and Maxim Dallas; all three companies offer free samples to qualified developers - one of the three, however, hasn't delivered.
Super fast - samples on FedEx the next working day. Super slick and speedy.
No hassles with samples, although expedition is not a quick as Freescale (standard post used). What I really, really like about the Maxim Dallas system is how the e-mail confirmation comes with links to datasheets and application notes, rather than having to trawl back through the site. Well cool.
I love the AVR devices (especially since I've invested in an STK500 development board an have spent quite some time working with AVRGCC), but I'm not so impressed with Atmel, the manufacturer. On two occassions (the first some five months ago) I have attempted to put through sample orders. Both said that the samples would be shipped to the local agent; perhaps they were - I never saw them, nor heard any more. Until I see some measureable improvment in customer service from this company, I won't be looking at their devices for any new designs. (I will still finish my evaluation of the Atmel devices in this series of articles because AVRs are still pretty cool.)