I have a compaq and I love it. I got it about 4 months ago, and have had no problems.
It also cost $699 with all the same features as the 600m from dell (minus the centrino chip).
I don't think I will have any problems with it, and if it worries you enough, for an extra $199 Best Buy will slap 3 more years of extended warranty on it.
My decision was that if something went SO bad that my compaq just *&^% the bed entirely, I would buy a new one. Even then, $1398 for 2 laptops is less than a Dell. But that is worse case scenario of course, I highly doubt the $699 compaw won't last me for 3 years.