The problem with people saying one brand sucks over the other is that it's their personal experience. Often times due to a fault of their own, maybe they installed some bloated software that made the laptop unstable or slow down and somehow that's the manufacturers fault... I see that so much in my line of work, sigh.
For every day use and some light gaming, such as The Sims, any run of the mill laptop produced in 2011 or later will be sufficient. The main thing over the CPU (processor) is to have at least 4GB of RAM (Memory) because you will often run out of RAM before you max out the CPU. The more RAM you have the more programs you can open without the system bogging down. I tell people to get 8GB of RAM if they can but definitely never less than 4GB especially if you're going to be running Windows 7. Also - Most recent laptops all have a 6 hour battery life, if you travel a lot then look for a 9 cell battery instead of a 6 cell battery which is the most common one. A larger cell battery means longer battery life.
Another thing to consider is whether or not you can afford a laptop that comes with an SSD (Solid State Drive) instead of a normal hard drive. While the space is much less with an SSD, the less moving parts the better. The laptop will also start much faster and programs will also load faster. It'll also help the battery life because those SSD's hardly use any power. In a few years time pretty much all laptops will have SSD's because it just makes so much sense from a consumer standpoint.
As for brands, a lot of people like Apple because of their support. When you call up Apple you are getting someone with a clue. When you call up Asus, Dell, HP or Lenovo you are 9 out of 10 times getting someone in a call centre out in India or Manilla. There's a big company in the states called Square Trade and they put together a laptop reliability chart: http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/S...ility_1109.pdf
Page 6. You'll see that Asus, Toshiba, Sony and Apple have the least three year failure rates. As the chart indicates, avoid Acer and HP. I've had so much trouble with those two brands. Grr... and if the extended warranty is cheap, get one. It's one of the few extended warranties that are not a waste of money. I've had laptops fail 2 years after the 1 year warranty is over and because I had the extended warranty, BestBuy gave me a brand new laptop that was much better than the one I previously had. :)