It should be obvious to everyone that a few anecdotes form no basis on which to judge the quality of a laptop brand. Your best bet would probably be to see what Consumer Reports has to say, as they collect data from thousands of users. But even then, the "most reliable" brand will have lemons, and the most reliable model will have been unreliable for some users.
Not counting my first laptop, a wretched but very cheap Packard Bell that nevertheless lasted five years before an electrical short made it unusable, I've had a Fujitsu Lifebook that stopped working after five years of reliable service, a Toshiba Satellite that is still working after 5-1/2 years and is being used as a desktop computer (external keyboard, mouse, dual monitor, and 160 gig external FireWire drive running whenever the computer is on), and my present Gateway laptop, which is about 16 months old and has been flawless so far. They've all been dual boot Linux and Windows.
Toshiba has a very bad reputation for support after the sale. They don't do anything by e-mail and you have to call and usually talk to someone who's not competent (so what else is new?). If you send your Toshiba to their Depot for repair, it may take weeks or months to get it back and people report having the same problem after it's supposedly repaired. I don't know that other brands are better.
Either get as much RAM as you ever expect to need or make sure there's an empty slot when you buy the computer. Most laptops have only two RAM slots and they're usually filled (e.g., if it comes with 1 gig of RAM it'll have two 512-meg sticks). If you later decide to increase the RAM, you'll have to discard one or both RAM modules.
A lot of techie types like Lenovo business models. They've always been too expensive for my budget, so I've never tried one. But if a MacBook isn't too expensive for you, look at Lenovo, too.