Disregarding my little red "m", I don't have such issues because I keep the OS critical updates, updated, the antivirus current and practice safe as I can computing habits. Many expect support to recover their machine after they opened some virus laden email and the screams you hear or read about support often are the result of the support asking them to wipe the machine and return it to the factory defaults.
While it may be possible to recover the machine, the simple dollars and time required are not in this support agreement. This can be where many fall out of their chair and pound the floor cursing.
Also noteworthy is that such virus/trojan/malware/other OS damage is not covered under the support. More than a few get whacked with the repair bill over this and again the expletives fly. Be sure you understand what is and isn't covered.
That said, I rarely have had any true issue with the name brands with an exception of Sony. My Sony story is one about 20 laptops that would not run 8 to 9 hours as desktop replacements running lightwieght(?) email and word. In fact, as a test, we tried running nothing and they still locked up. Sony's treatment of the company that I worked for in respect to these laptops has earned them a permanent black mark in my book.
Just stick with the names and you should be fine.
As to that price range, you can entertain the 64-bit capable laptops to future proof your purchase.
I'd like some recommendations about a notebook in the $1100-$1700 price range. I will be using it to work remotely. I plan to run windows and ssh into a linux machine that will do the heavy processing power that my job requires. I don't need much in the way of multimedia. I just need something that won't require a lot of tech support (ie shipping it back) because it will be my primary work machine. I heard that Dell was good because they have some kind of service agreement where they will come to your location to fix the machine, but I've also heard negative things about people having a lot of problems with both their machines and their tech support. Any advice would be highly appreciated.