I have an HP laptop, and the Husband has a Compaq. I haven't had any issues with it, nor he with his. *knock wood* Well, except for internet issues, but those are from the ISP, not the computers. Mine is the widescreen, and it's a bit heavy, but I only lug it around the house. His is much lighter (not a widescreen).
We went with them b/c they were available at Best Buy, were on sale, and we could get the extended idiot warranty. Which came in handy when I dropped mine (about 8 inches) onto the floor and did something to part where the power cord plugs in. Granted, we had to send it in for repair, but it was fixed quickly. (We also had one repaired in the store when one of the cats jumped on the keyboard & pulled the "j" key off. Cats.
) I didn't want a Dell or a Gateway (one friend referred to his as "the gateway to hell"). I would have loved a Toughbook, but that's not in the budget.
Good luck making a decision!!!