I'm a fan of the free software movement but I'm not too concerned about proprietary bios. With that said, Thinkpads rock and make excellent CrunchBang machines.
Based on the exchange rate (I'm used to thinking in dollars, so I had to do a little math) the prices for those ThinkPads seem reasonable.
As coffee_guy said above, I really don't think BIOS is such a big deal, though a BIOS that comes with its own flashing utility would be a good thing. I'm usually more concerned with whether the wifi or GPU will need proprietary software.