As I mentioned in another thread, I tend to favour Hitachi drives but find Fujitsu, Maxtor and IBM to be ok. Also, I've tended to find Maxtor a little quieter than others and Fujitsu to be a little noisier. I avoid the other two major players.
Having said that, I can't comment specifically on IDE/ATA laptop drives (as opposed to SATA) but the mechanics are the same.
Thanks. I found a bunch of 2.5" IDE drives made by the other manufacturers, but my persistence paid off and I eventually found a new Hitachi drive. It's surprising how rare these old drives have become. I almost bought an extra one for the time when this dive fails somewhere down the line.