Got an HP Pavillion myself as a media desktop and general workhorse and in 3 years the wife hasn't killed it so for me gets a top rating. The old HP notebook is showing it's age, but after 5 years still works as it should so I don't think it's a general "HP" thing. Customer service may suck but I find CS sucks for most brands, Dell used to be by far the worst.
I've found in recent years Dell has improved - for the business environment that is. I wouldn't have one at home. I personally have a Fujitsu Lifebook laptop, which is expensive but bloody good and super light. Couldn't comment on customer services as I haven't used yet!
Lenovo customer service for Thinkpads is pretty amazing. 3 day turnarounds and the techs will call you on the phone if you ask them to. I'm not sure if that is generalisable across to the desktops.
Flute- for future reference, data backup can literally be as simple as pressing a single button on a box if you buy one of the external drives from Maxtor or Western Digital.
Thanks jgl, jimbo and jaykay for recommendation, will give Fujitsu a try, and definitely Maxtor and Western digital sounds good.
I didn't try to shift data protection responsibility to HP. But think HP shall take responsibility for a very very bad product, and maybe an extremely upset consumer. I personally will never ever, never ever touch the brand.