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Since all the big name brands outsource different models to various contract manufacturers, you have to look at the reputation of specific models to select a good, reliable laptop. Customer reviews helped me in the past to avoid lemons, but it takes some time to find them and read them to figure out if this particular laptop is for you.

I had to do it so many times in the past, that I ended up developing software to help with this task. You can quickly check reputation of many products if you go to http://www.amplifiedanalytics.com/V2P-Product-Reviews/Demo, start entering the product name or number like "Asus ... or "Toshiba Laptop", see if you find a model on the list you are interested in, and click on "Submit" button. The system will aggregate and analyze customer reviews to calculate the reputation metrics for you and will let you read the reviews if you want to.

The list is updated from time to time, so let me know if you can't find the product you want to check.