Unfortunately, I'm going to give a more complicted answer and start with Yes and No.
First of all, you are a lucky man to have had no trouble from a Packard-Bell. I know of no make that has a worse reputation for quality and reliability;their average was worse than the low spots of Compaq, Gateway, Dell, etc. when they were at their worst. Our company is a local HP
authorized repair facility and until several years after P-B bit the dust we would get at least a dozen irate people a week coming in to complain about the crap HP
were making - thinking wrongly that the companies were the same due to the similarity in names. Generally speaking, once reality was explained and they were calmed down, they would buy an HP
unless the repair on their PB
Now, on to the reliability today vs. yesterday question. If you buy a mid to high end business class computer today from a reputable manufacturer there is no question that the hardware is more reliable. On the low end consumer models, i.e. what you can buy at CompUSA, Wal-Mart, HSN, etc. the story is not so pretty. These use the lowest grade components available and typically have much shorter warranties as a result; typically one year and in some cases just 90 days. OTOH, most business class PCs come with 3 year warranties and promos for free upgrades to 4 or 5 years are not uncommon. If you want reliability and better performance, buy business class from a reputable reseller or directly from the manufacturer's Small and Medium Business store on the web; it's worth the minor 10-20% premium.
Now, on to make it a bit more complicated. Today's processors, drives, memory etc. typically produce considerable heat and are also very sensative to being overheated. Large manufacturers spend a lot of time and money using CFD to analyze heat flow and transfer and adjust their designs accordingly. Small "White Box" manufacturers do not have the money or ability to do so and as a result their reliability suffers greatly. I can't emphasize enough how important this is, HP
for instance adjusts the lengths and locations of cabling in the computer to optimize air flow. The typical response of small manufacturers is to fit larger fans and run them full speed at all times. This results in a noisy computer, low lifetime for the fan, and may not even solve the problem.
Another innovation that has helped improve the reliability of todays PCs are SMART hard drives that can usually detect faults early before they cause catastrophic failure of the drive allowing pre-failure replacement.
If you go to the workstation and server segment of the market then the reliability of today's machines is far better than ten years ago. Features like redundant power, redundant fans, SCSI drives, hot swap memory and drives, RAID drives(and memory), etc. that used to be common in the Unix world are now common with these machines. Add in redundant NICs, redundat FC connections to fault tolerant SANs, etc. and this hardware really is ready for Enterprise applications today.
is not quite as good of a story. Don't get me wrong, today's MS
Windows is much more reliable than it was ten years ago but it is still bloated, not nearly as reliable as Unix/Linux, and subject to virus, worm, trojan attacks, etc. particularly at the desktop level. In fact, I would estimate that 70-80% of the desktop boxes we "repair" have no hardware faults. It is common to find 200+ instances of adware, virus, etc. absolutely killing the performance and reliablity of the machine.