I'm sure I'm unlucky
I own an old IBM thinkpad (pentium IIRC), and it is in perfect working condition with a bunch of upgrades (ram = 40M woohoo!, hard disk ~1G, etc...). The thing just keeps on ticking.
On the other hand, my relatively new Dell laptop doesn't seem to have a working serial port anymore, the laptop gets so hot I think its overheating my pcmcia cards (wifi), the ethernet chipset doesn't work with my router, and I think something has gone screwy with the pcmcia slots causing intermittent errors.
In general, I think it probably depends a lot on the particular model you end up getting from a company. And everybody's tech support probably sucks horrendously - although I've heard Apple's isn't so bad. If you're looking for the least amount of problems, you probably need to buy a laptop model that people have been already using for a year or so and has had very good reviews. Of course, by that time, it's already obsolete.