I have a current Shimano 7 speed but as its not compact I can't use it on any of my bikes (grr) so I don't know about their quality.
Not sure if I understand correctly, but shimano 7 speed is identically spaced to the old maillard "compact" 7. Shimano 5 and 6 speed are wider and not compact.
I stand corrected. It was a while ago that I ran a Sachs 7 on my bike. I might even have resorted to taking off the smallest sprocket (if that was possible). When I tried putting the new Shimano 7 on my 126mm hub it fouled the frame just getting the wheel in.