I see far more Acer, HP, Compaq, and Dell Notebook in my shop for servicing than I do Toshiba or Lenovo products. Then again, this might just mean there is a greater volume the other brands in my area in general. I've always been partial to Toshiba Tecras myself. I once dropped one of mine on the concrete floor of an airline terminal, put it back together on the plane and continue to use it.
The Inspiron 1440 (pp42l) is a newer budget line Dell that hasn't been out long enough to really know its reliability. Dell in general is a good notebook for the money, but this being a budget laptop it will not be as rugged as some. Treat it right and you should be ok.