I'm not going to mention battery life or performance or any other of a multitude of things people might want to know, simply because I haven't tested them yet. I'll add on as I get more info.
But, what I will mention are my thoughts after having set it up yesterday, and my general thoughts of ownership after about 24 hours of use. What I will focus on is this laptop in comparison to the last two notebooks I owned, a top of the line 14.1" T43 (I opted to not go with the -P since FireGLs gave me issues with gaming and my T41P & T42P), and an Acer Ferrari (mentioning it as it was my last widescreen), as well as the Dell E1705 I currently own.
Specs for all systems in question:
Ferrari 4005 (July 2005-Nov 2005)
2.0ghz Turion 64 ML37
2gb PC3200 DDR
100gb 5400rpm IDE hdd
15.4" SXGA+ LCD
XP Pro x64
Dell E1705 (July 2006-present)
1.66ghz Core Duo T2300e
80gb 5400rpm SATA hdd
17" Samsung WXGA+ LCD
Dell 1390 BG
T43 (Nov 2005-Feb 2007)
2.13ghz Pentium M 770
2gb PC4200 DDR2
2x 80gb 7200rpm IDE hdd (1 in ultrabay slim)
DVDRW (swapped with one of the hdds)
14.1" SXGA+ LCD
T60 (Feb 2007-present
2.0ghz Core 2 Duo T7200
2gb PC5300 DDR2
2x 100gb 7200rpm SATA hdd (1 in ultrabay)
DVDDL (swapped with one of the hdds)
15.4" LG WSXGA+ LCD
Intel 3945 ABG
First off: Why I upgraded
I'm upgrading from the T43. Why? My E1705 is too large to take to class, resolution is too low, doesn't have a docking station, the battery doesn't last all that long. So, it's going to remain my multimedia machine. The T43's lack of Core Duo was apparent when running VMWare; performance on the E1705 was well above that of the T43, thanks to the dual core.
Really, that was the only compelling reason to make the switch. The decision to go widescreen was a simple one - I prefer the extra screen space. I missed it when I went from the Ferrari to the T43, and I wanted it back.
I was looking at a few systems as potential systems. Dell D820, Asus V1JP, Lenovo T60 Widescreen. The Asus would have given me a better card for gaming, but I have an E1705 to game with. I wanted portable power, but with a greater emphasis on portable. I knew I wanted a Core 2 Duo, and I did not want a castrated chip (the T2300e model has virtualization disabled- and it was a feature I definitely wanted to use w/ VMWare).
The Asus was the first one I wrote off, simply due to the glossy screen (I like the brightness and contrast, but I don't like my reflection. Also, it had a weaker warranty (only 2 years vs. 3), and lacked a trackpoint. It's docking station options were the most limited. It looked like a great system, but had some major things I wasn't a fan of.
The Dell D820 was the last one I looked at. While it looked like a great system, and I know their warranty is pretty damned good, the D620s the school has left a lot to be desired. The keyboard didn't feel as good as my T43's, the Trackpoint wasn't as good. I based the D820 off the experiences with the D620 (for better or worse). It had a much better videocard, and was built very well, but I'm not a touchpad kind of guy
The Lenovo T60 was the one I settled on. It had the weakest videocard of them all, lacked firewire, and had a pretty substantial input change from my T43 (with the addition of the Windows & Function keys on the keyboard - I'm still hitting the right alt out of habit, and the reshaping of the mouse keys & touchpad). But, it had a fairly proud history to it, if it would have lived up to the Thinkpad T series' legacy. I went ahead and bit a very expensive bullet. $2048 out the door w/tax. 3 year at home warranty & ultrabay slim SATA adapter.
Ignoring the obvious things like it weighs more, it's bigger...
The T60 runs much more quietly and cooler than the T43 did - I typically run my laptops at the slowest speed, as I don't need the CPU, and the heat output (and battery life) is much better. I haven't heard this fan spin up on high once, where the T43 would routinely spin up for about 10 seconds every few minutes. <UPDATE!> I apparently typed this entire review out with the CPU running at 2.0ghz, rather than the normal 1.0ghz. I never noticed a heat or noise increase. I think that says a lot for this system/CPU.
It took a little getting used to, as I'm still somewhat hardwired into pressing the right alt key (which I had mapped to the windows key). However, the keys feel about the same as the T43 did. Very comfortable to type on, and otherwise no learning curve. Bonus points for the media changing buttons on the arrow keys, I listen to MP3s enough that I am glad to have this functionality.
Trackpoint and touchpad:
While they're shaped differently, and the touchpad is smaller(and currently disabled), they key depression is about as soft but firm(it's hard to describe. They're easy to push in, but feel like there's more meat to them than the Latitude's, for example.) as the T43's were. I basically notice no difference when I'm using them.
Since one of the main differences between this and the T43 was the screen, I should mention it. I lucked out and got an LG Phillips panel, rather than the supposedly crappy Samsung panel (and based off my E1705 w/ a Samsung and my parents' 9300 with an LG, the differences probably were rather substantial). No dead pixels, no light leakage to speak of, and better viewing angles. Certainly no complaints about it. The resolution is perfect at 1680x1050. As can be seen in the pictures, it's literally a wider 14", so the transition from 1400x1050 to 1680x1050 was more or less transparent. Text and icons are the same size.
Speakers on the widescreen units were moved me to above the keyboard, rather than under the wrists. This is about as perfect a position as I could ask for. They're better than the T43's, but still pale in comparison to the E1705's.
At least with this laptop, Lenovo seems to have stepped up the quality a bit. I can pick it up by the sides, and not hear a creak. I can push in on the palmrests, or just about anywhere on the unit, and it's solid. The only place that doesn't feel 100% solid is the area where the PCMCIA and Express cards plug in, which is understandable. I guess that roll cage helped out. One thing I noticed when I bought the unit is that the entire unti is made out of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Plastic (CFRP). The T43 had a magnesium alloy lid, and titanium-reinforced CFRP bottom. I can't tell any difference. I push in on the middle of the lid, and see no ripples. If I could describe the unit in one word, solid is the word I'd use.
Acer Ferrari 4005
Again, this runs more quietly, but about as cool. When I had the Ferrari 4005, the fan always ran, but put out cool air.
The Acer had a curved keyboard, that I actually liked quite a bit. I still prefer the layout of the IBM though. The main thing here that I preferred on the Ferrari was the palmrest - rubberized. It showed marks more than the plastic of the Thinkpads do, but it felt good.
I really can't compare it that much, but I do have to say I liked the wide format of the Ferrari's touchpad. I don't use touchpads on the thinkpad, but I would have preferred to see it be wide to match the screen. I'll give the edge to the Ferrari's.
Same resolution, both matte. I think this might have a bit better color, but it's negligible enough that I probably wouldn't know the difference. The T43's hinges are better though...probably the best hinges of any laptop I've used.
I don't remember enough, probably comparable.
The Ferrari was plastic (maybe CFRP) everywhere, and emphasized the Carbon Fiber on the lid, but didn't feel nearly as sturdy as this thing does.
This is a very unfair comparison. Different type of system, different expectations. But, it's good to mention why I bought a separate laptop instead of making this system pull double duty.
Thinkpads have the best keyboard in the business. I don't typically use the E1705's (I have keyboard and mouse plugged into it), but the layout always gets me when I do (with the FN key moved).
It has a wide touchpad, but the feel is different to it. The E1705's is more smooth to the touch, but feels more plasticy in a way. I'd go for the Thinkpad's instead (and definitely for the Ferrari's over the Dell's).
Smaller display on the T60, but a higher resolution. I'd have preferred a WUXGA glossy on the E1705, but went where my budget allowed. Since the E1705 was originally bought for gaming and TV, the lower resolution could yield native resolution gaming, and the matte screen would have helped prevent glare when used as a TV at college. As said, it's a Samsung panel...and at least for the unit I have, vs the T60, the T60's the winner.
E1705 has the best speakers of any laptop I've seen. No comparison or question who wins here.
I'm told that the Inspirons are plastic w/ metal reinforcements. There's really no comparison here, the E1705 just doesn't feel as sturdy or solid as the T60. Hinges aren't as sturdy, and while it generally feels like it's better built than many of the Toshiba Satellite and Gateways I've worked on for other people, it just doesn't compare to the T60.
I'll add more as time and circumstances allow, but for now, I have to cut this short and get some homework done.