Optima was bought by Interstate, and they are actually one company now. The Optima websites, and their toll-free number were of little help, but now that it's a new business day, this is what I found out.
The Optima battery that is specified for my car when compared to the stock Interstate would cost me about 50 bucks more, wouldn't fit the battery tray properly, could require cable length modifications, has 50 amps less power at 0°F, 15 amps less power at normal operating temperature, 30 minutes less reserve, and has the same overall warranty but less time under free replacement. The only two small advantages would be the vibration resistant spiral cell technology, and the high tech look of it.
No Thanks, I'll stick with the "big" battery...
And for be459, a pre-installed battery can be anything from one that has just had the plastic wrap over it cut open, to one that was put in someone's car, and the customer decided that they didn't want it. Interstate has a policy of taking back batteries from customers within 1 year of purchase, and also turns over battery stock at independent garages, parts stores, and boat shops. All "pre-installs" are fully tested, and come with the same warranty as brand new. Interstate just can't sell them as new anymore, so they discount them. Sears recently got into trouble for re-selling batteries that were "pre-installed" as new stock. I always ask about pre-installs and blems (blems are just cosmetically dinged). I had the last blem I bought outlast any other battery I ever bought.