Maxtor IS Seagate. I've never had a WD fail on me yet...going on 12 years. I still have a 1.2GB Caviar that works...
True, but Maxtor drives and Seagate drives are not the same. Seagate ones cost Â£2-3 more but you get a 5 year warranty. Maxtor is a budget brand but it makes little sense for an individual only buying a handful of drives to save a couple of quid for the sake of two years extra warranty.
As for particular brands being good, I'm afraid there is no evidence to support that. Google did a massive study on 100,000+ drives in their server farms and found that no particular brand or model was particularly good or bad. Sometimes they had bad batches of drives but there was no way of predicting which batches they would be.
My experience at work backs that up. We replace 60-70 drives a month and no brand seems to be any better than another. In fact the only thing which seems to affect reliability is the customer - some people just seem to kill HDDs. Maybe it's excessive heat because they keep their PC next to a radiator or maybe it's excessive force because they don't look after it.