After some debate and indecision on the matter, I had decided not to buy a second-hand laptop of any kind, and instead purchase a new laptop.
I finally caved in and have purchased a new Dell Inspiron 1525 laptop from the folks at Dell Canada. The new laptop will have a version of Linux installed on it, rather than Windows Vista (which I hear is a disaster), and I've added a few tweaks and the like to personalize the laptop.
The only bad news is that the laptop will not arrive until some time towards the end of August. Ah, well, as they say, good things come to those who wait. :)