Okay, I finally pulled the trigger. I have been reading an insane number of posts over the last few weeks on this forum trying to decide on a laptop to purchase. I am fairly experienced with several different models from different manufacturers. I have personally owned Toshiba, Digital, Compaq, Sony and Dell laptops and have had good experiences with all of them for different reasons. I use a Dell D800 for my job and it is a nice machine as well.
My main concerns are ease of use, quality of construction and compatibility. Features are somewhat important as well. After using a couple of ultra-portables for some time (the Sony SRX77 and the Dell D400), I concluded that having to cart around a seperate optical drive to watch movies or rip music was just a big pain. On the other end of the spectrum these big 6.5 - 7 pounders with 15 0r 15.4 inch screens are just too big and hot for everyday use at home. I love being able to sit in bed or on the couch with my laptop. This D800 is nice but after much more than half an hour it is like Christmas, if you know what I mean. So anyway, I wanted to end up with something in between the two extremes.
My usage will be for both home and school as I have gone back to college. I would like to be able to use the system for a little bit of everything. So my final decision after looking hard at the Dell D600, Toshiba Tecra M2, the evarious iterations of the CL56 and other similar systems was...... A drum roll please! The IBM T42! WOOHOO! A decision. Amazing!
I figured everybody says IBM is the best in terms of reliabilty and build quality. Did I mention I really, really want a good docking station for this puppy? That narrowed things down quite a bit as well. So the final system specs:
Pentuim M 1.7ghz Dothan
14.1" SXGA Screen (avoided the 15" flexview due to alleged ghosting issues)
Radeon 9600 64mb video (Best video I could get short of $2500+ P series versions)
256mb RAM (soon to be upgaded to at least 1gb)
40gb 5400 RPM Drive (soon to be supplemented with external 250gb USB/firewire drive)
DVD / CDRW combo drive (soon to be supplemented with external DVD+-RW dual layer)
Intel 2200 B/G Wireless
The buying experience was the best I have encountered by far. I saw this model on IBMs web site through the "Think Express" program for $1849. I then shopped around quite a bit on Newegg, PC Connection and Ebay and concluded that you could not beat IBMs return policy (30 days no questions asked and no restocking fee). Worse case, you are out the shipping. Then I called to ask some questions and got through very quickly to a very knowledgable CSR who e-mailed with the information I requested. I was also able to ge them to drop approx. $100 off the price for my being a student. I called back the next day and asked a few more questions and placed the order. Again the CSR was excellent and stepped me through everything perfectly, offerring me a few additional options but with no pressure or hard sales pitch.
It should get here along with the extra memory by Wednesday. Oh, that's another thing, they upgraded the shipping to two day very reasonably. Two final points: I absolutely love the idea of the built-in light to see the keyboard in relative darkness as I am very likely to sit and surf or work with little or no ambient light. Finallly, I guess I am going to add firewire by virtue of a PCMCIA card.
My only concerns with going this route are: 1. whether I will get frustrated only 64mb video memory with so many newer laptops coming out with 128mb 2. The SXGA resolution on only a 14" screen may be tough to tweak out to be comfortable for my 40+ year old eyes, and 3. The firewire card will not give me the best speed fo video transfers.
Anyway, thanks to everyone on these forums for all of your trials, tests, comments and opinions. It has all been very helpful for me to make my decision. Or, at least it confused into just picking a direction and going for it.
I will try to post this in at least one other pertinent forum in case it might actually help someone else.