the warranty for a refurbished IBM is one year. the one i bought comes with an extented warraty for another three more years (which starts after the one year expiration of the IBM warranty). the extended warranty has worldwide overage and it is from www.mackcam.com
i have been using the laptop constantly (literally). the battery life is great, i can watch two DVD movies and have extra. the IBM comes with an app for a windows DVD movie player. i've notice that this DVD program does excesive read/writes to the harddrive (probably uses a big buffer), which i think wears out the disk. i have a dual boot XP/linux and for the linux operating system i use a program to watch DVDs called 'xine' that does not do all this read/write and the movies play nice.
the battery life makes the laptop more portable, though i haven't measured scientifically how many hours i can get. i go to the couch or to bed and i don't worry about having to plug it to the wall. this is a nice couch laptop. it is quiet as a church mouse. i have read people having small noises with previous models, but this one is super quiet (the 7200 rpm harddrive is as quiet as it can get). the only noticeable noise i heard was when i was doing a linux installation and then the harddrive made some small clanking noise. the laptop stays cool but when playing 3D games, the fan comes on but the noise of the fan is really faint (not noticeable). i guest that if you put an M10 graphic card, you will lose some battery life and the laptop will run hotter, but you will have better performance. so far i haven't seen any performance lag when doing 3D stuff (i have the ATI fireGL radeon 64Mgs -> M9).
the laptop i got comes installed (from IBM recovery CDs) with winXP pro, some IBM utilities, a DVD player called InterVideo, norton antivirus 2003, pcdoctor, and a CD with lotus 9.7 (lotus word pro, lotus1-2-3 spreadsheet, organizer, presentation and graphics, database, web publisher). i haven't installed the lotus applications. instead, i have installed openoffice (compatible with MS office), which i also use in linux . you can get openoffice for free download at www.openoffice.org
. you can also get free picture program called imagemagic for windows (it is not as good as photoshop, but it does the basic stuff).
i am not sure how much disk space the IBM recovery stuff uses. i think i read it is about 8 Gigs. i have partition my harddirve to 20 Gigs for Xp and the rest (40 Gigs) for linux.
after using it for some time now, i highly recommend a thinkpad (if you can afford the high end model, go for it). you will be able to use it more because of its portability. in contrast, the other higher performance laptops will keep you glue to a table (weight, power, noise, heat, etc).