Well I'm going to be a bit biased here, because I work for them, but I would say that Dell has the best bang for the buck. I personally have a house full of Dells, and have only required one hardware replacement. With a pretty inexpensive warranty upgrade, you can get a technician sent out to your house with a replacement part the next business day - so when you call Dell on Tuesday and your motherboard is bad, a technician will be at your house on Wednesday with a motherboard. We also have a pretty awesome accidental damage warranty - if you spill something on your laptop and it no longer turns on, we'll replace it with a same or better system. If it drops and breaks into a million pieces, we'll replace it with a same or better system. If the screen breaks, we'll send a technician the next day to replace it.
Some people complain about the technical support - mainly that it is outsourced to partners in the Philippines and Pakistan, and that they just read off of a paper. But that's because their English skills are limited (understandably so) and the script is meant to accurately diagnose and repair a problem. Some people also complain about the low quality of components - but I could say the same thing about most other laptop manufacturers.
If you are willing to be patient with outsource partners, or are okay with chatting in to get past the language barrier, I highly recommend Dell for their warranty support and fair business practices.
(steps off of soap box)
EDIT: (gets back on soap box)
And you can get a pretty sweet laptop for under $1000. I'd recommend a Studio 15 laptop - one of my colleagues just got one and I am very impressed with the build quality, looks, and hardware. Specs are very low on the suck factor too.
Edited by The Admiral, 18 November 2008 - 03:51 PM.