I've had good experience with Seagate drives.
I just had a G-Tech branded Hitachi drive fail after one year [it was on 24/7 in it's defense]
I've had drives arrive from newegg DOA, which I've gathered is more common with "OEM" bare drives when compared to "retail" packaged drives. [possibly due to less robust packaging?]
Western Digital has a new line of RED drives that are designed for NAS usage, which might work well for you.
as far as transfer speeds, if you have a USB 3, eSATA, or Firewire port on the computer, you should be fine with an external drive, USB 2 might be slower...
hop this helps,