Thinkpads are the highest of quality products.
The only thing that Thinkpads are inferior at compared to their competition is multimedia, which is very much not their focus
Thinkpads are built traditionally for business. Consumers buy them. But, they're geared towards people that want reliability and to get their work done. It's a no-hassle laptop first and foremost.
It doesn't have a subwoofer like my E1705. It doesn't have a glossy screen. It doesn't have a 4-in-1 card reader of firewire (Actually, these 2 points I believe they're fixing with the T61s...which is good, because I want SD card readability and firewire for my external drives). It's not flashy, there are no glowing eyes.
It's a no-nonsense machine. Using one for an hour will make you realize just how big of a gap there is between consumer-oriented laptops and business laptops.
Even when compared with other business-oriented laptops, most notably the Dell Latitude D620s I'm seeing around campus all the time (that's what they're giving the Capital Scholars), it's not hard to see where Lenovo did it right. Using the keyboard, and especially the trackpoint, shows a major difference between the Thinkpad and the Latitude. The Lat's keyboard felt mushy, and the trackpoint keys were stiff on the system I used. The Thinkpad's were the way they've always been, which simply felt right.
It's really just a matter of what you're wanting to do with it. I wanted a laptop I could play games on and use for multimedia purposes, so I bought a 17" E1705. I wanted a laptop that was reliable and comfortable to type on for school, so I bought a T43. I wanted Core 2 Duo on my school/work system, so I replaced my T43 with a T60 widescreen (I also wanted widescreen). Now, because my school isn't supporting 64 bit Vista (or rather, Cisco is moving to another product, and the school isn't getting off their asses to support the replacement for VPN), I just bought an R60 to use for school work & remain university-compatible (plus, I wanted a machine that would be good for tinkering around in Linux with, without taking my multimedia or workstation systems offline)
In the interest of full divulgence:
Laptops owned (currently own = *):
actually, neither owned, but used at work)
Satellite 125-CDS (I think)
I dunno, it was a free system though, so I didn't complain.
750 (found in a dumpster)
i1300 (this was found in the middle of the road, it apparently fell off a guy's car who was doing 45 or more. Scratched up, hinge cover broken, but worked fine)
600e (work system -bought 1 for my brother)
T22 (work system -bought to replace my brother's 600e)
X30 (owned 3 of them. 1 for my fiance, 1 for me, and another a 2 years after I sold the first one)
X31 (replaced the M6805)
T60 Wide Screen*
I've owned a lot of Thinkpads. Not because of problems, but because I'd buy them for a project, realize I don't need another laptop of similar function & capability, then sell it off, only to find I need another laptop again. It's a vicious cycle: I just sold my Portege R100, and bought the R60, when I've had the T60 for 2 months and the E1705 for 8.
The only ones I've had break on me were Toshiba Satellites, the 125 had a bad inverter, and the 3000 simply died from heavy use.
As mitcity22 said, the quality of the Lenovo 3000 line probably isn't that great. I've seen a couple girls at college with them, but haven't had the opportunity to try them out. They likely do not compare to the Thinkpad line.