Not all laptops are created equally.
A recent study has looked at the reliability of laptops and netbooks over the first 3 years of ownership. Over this period 20% of the laptops and 25% of netbooks had a hardware failure while another 10% had accidental damage.
Approx 5% of laptops and 6% of netbooks malfunction within the first year,
The graph below shows the malfunction rate for over 30000 laptops from the main manufactures.
The most reliable manufactures were Asus and Toshiba with less than 16% having a hardware malfunction over the first 3 years of ownership. These laptops are hence 40% more reliable than Hewlett Packard.
Acer and Gateway also had a failure rate significantly higher than average.
Laptop reliability is much less than other consumer electronic goods. But how much of this is down to the manufactures and how much is down to the way that we (mis) treat them is open for debate. However these results do suggest which laptop manufactures should be avoided for reliability.