My year-old MacBook Pro decided to have a stroke last weekend: all the ports on the right side of the computer stopped working. On Monday morning I dropped it off at the Mac Store Service Center (in the PowerMax warehouse in Lake Grove) and was told they would either fix it there or overnight it to Apple. This morning I called to find out what they did and was informed they put it on the overnight that afternoon, and said it would take 7 to 10 business days. "Sometimes it takes less, but we are required to state the 7-10 number."
At two this afternoon I came home to a message on my phone saying "Your Mac is back." I called in, "What, already?" Yep, it was, only two day turnaround including shipping it off to the Apple service center. They replaced the motherboard and the total cost was $0. As it was just barely past one year old, I would have had to pay more than the $349 cost of AppleCare for this fix. Plus, I have almost two years more coverage to go.
That's why I always recommend AppleCare, without exception, but especially for laptops.
PS: The reports of problems with QuickTime 7.6 and Leopard Update 10.5.6 have slacked off, and the update has been certified by some of the developers of high-end Mac programs, most notably ProTools, as mentioned in an earlier post. I will put these updates in mine this week to see if I also have no problems from it. I also have two kinds of backups: one drive with a cloned copy and another with a constantly-updating TimeMachine backup.
If I have problems and have to restore to a previous version I will let you all know. Otherwise, go ahead and download the updaters from Apple's site - don't just use Software Update - and run them yourselves.