Personally, I'd stay away from Acer and HP, which also includes Gateway, eMachines, and Compaq. Let these two companies fight over who's the bigger bottom feeder without you having to get caught in the middle.
Until the new "retina" models, I would have also said Apple, but no longer. Now everything is either soldered directly to the logic board (i.e. RAM) or is an expensive custom form factor like the SSD. Add to that several compromises made in the construction of the newer models, which only make it so any damage to the unit is likely to be much more serious than it might be for any other brand. Apple units are nice to look at, but they've gotten to the point where they're almost too fragile to actually use unless they're fixed in place. Plus there are basically NO upgrade options anymore. If 6-12 months down the road you find you need more RAM, you have to get a new logic board, you can't just pop in some new SO-DIMMs. And if you find yourself needing more storage space, your only option is to buy expensive custom form factor SSDs. You have to buy everything you might possibly need at the time of purchase.
Dell, Toshiba, and Asus tend to make up the solid middle of the road options. Not as cheap as HP or Acer, not as pretty as Apple, but they're generally solid units at a fair price as long as you stay away from the low end models. Just stay away from any so-called gaming laptop. The high end hardware in those units tends to lead to high failure rates.