I'd vote for the SONY VAIO. I have two of them, one from the 505 series (needs an external CDR,) and the other is an 800 series, which has now been replaced by the XG series. I also have an IBM but am fondest of the VAIO 818. It's a PII 300, has a removeable HDD, versatile drive bay (one can use the 3 1/2 FDD, DVD, or second battery. Speaking of which, I get over 3 1/2 hrs on battery life with one battery installed. Modem is a Rockwell voice fax model and works flawlessly under linux. Everything does, actually. Total install time for RH 6.1 was about 45 minutes or less. Mandrake took 30 minutes. Had to do some minor tweaking on the sound card, that's it. Another plus is that the CPU is an MMC, so I'll easily be able to upgrade to a PII 400 if I decide to do so.
The IBM, OTOH, was problematic. Seems it has a winmodem, had memory problems etc. And at over 7 kg, it tore up my shoulder when I had to lug it around. It also wouldn't run NT; no drivers and IBM told me they'd no plans on ever providing them--the exact opposite of what they told me when I bought it. The SONY came with all necessary NT drivers.
I don't know of any notebook manufacturers that have more than a 1 yr. warranty. Both my VAIO & IBM came with a standard 1 yr. But I do seem to recall warranty extension was available for an additional cost on the VAIO--and I believe that was through the vendor, not SONY.
Someone mentioned magnesium cases: only the 505 Superslim series have that AFAIK; all the others are plastic. The 800 series & up tend to be a bit delicate. Make sure you're careful & invest in a good case.
Be careful if you buy internationally: SONY will honour the warranty, but if the unit was purchased in the US--even for shipment abroad--it must be returned to Fremont Califorina for repairs. Some, but probably not all manufacturers have a similar policy. Also, SONY have a longer turnaround time for warranty service--usually 10 days. IBM & Toshiba promise 72 hrs. In spite of that, I do plan on buying an XG when I can afford it.
I believe the SONY website you'd go to in Ireland is http://www.sony-euro.com
Good luck. Please repost if you have any questions regarding specific models.
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