I hear people swearing allegence to a particular brand of consumer Hard Drive all the time, but I don't buy it.Sure, but if you'd actually read the parent post instead of having an emotional response to it, you'd see that he wasn't swearing allegience to a particular brand at all! The point was simply that his new (large) drive failed, while his old (small) drive has been working for years.
I would have to say that he is lucky though; those particular Maxtor drives (850 meg to 1.6 gig) are extremely failure prone.
You can't make blanket statements about one brand versus another, but you can take past data into consideration when buying a new drive. Some manufacturers have pretty consistent failure statistics (WDC, Seagate). Others produce good drives most of the time, but have bad spells from time to time that alienate a lot of customers (Maxtor, IBM, Fuji).
All it really comes down to is the level of honesty and support that you get from the company you buy from. IBM and Fuji show an astounding lack of good faith when it comes to dealing with quality problems. Maxtor, WDC, Seagate not only go out of their way to bring problems to their customers' attention, they also have advance RMA policies, even for OEM drives in the case of Maxtor and WDC, to get you back on your feet ASAP.