Beth, I would always go with the local computer store for the reasons you
stated. I do know somebody with the Beyond Sight and it works
fine...until it doesn't. Having to send a computer off someplace for
repairs is meaningless if you need it.
Another option, depending on your finances, is Fujitsu with an onsite service plan. I have this. The laptop is the best one available, in a word, it works, period. The tech support is native, meaning on shore, and they are aware of screen reading technology and will never give you a line of crap about the fault being your screen reader. If they can't fix the problem, they will send somebody out who can.
Beware of Del and Gateway, they have deteriorated and I wouldn't have one as a gift.
Scotch, where's my Scotch, Neal, did you run off with my Scotch?