The Toshiba M30 (or prebuilt M35S456) is a 15.4" widescreen LCD with the new Trubrite LCD (similar to Sony Xbrite). It weighs 6.2 pounds and has the Pentium M Dothan cpus. The excellent Compaq X1000/HPZT3000 alternatives to these (see X1000forums.com or hpshopping.com) are 6.5 pounds with very similar specs. Both can be custom ordered with 32mb or 64mb video dedicated memory (64mb is better if you can get it as this is NOT upgradable like the hard drive, RAM, or even the CPU in some cases).
If you order custom and can do it the 725 Pentium M 1.6 or the 735 Pentium M 1.7 are cheaper alternatives to the much too expensive 1.8 and 2.0 Pentium M's (all are Dothan with 2mb L2 system cache) -- also, the Toshiba sells the 715 1.5 which is also a Dothan but the 705 1.5 on Dell and HP/Compaq are not a Dothan Pentium M CPU so order at least the 725 on those.
The IBM, Dell, and Toshiba Techra series are all 14.1" LCD's and weight 5.5 pounds or less. So decide whether you value the 15.4" widescreen (for widescreen DVD's, more spreadsheet real estate on sides -- even more than increasing the resolution alone) or not.
Note: Toshiba Trubrite only comes in XGA not SXGA resolution.
Toshiba is selling all custom order notebooks for 10% off right now on their website (Techra or M30).
Compaq/HP has a $100 custom order rebate through 9/1, a 6% student discount if qualified (APP) an employer 12% discount if qualified (EPP), and other discounts. See X1000forums.com
If interested in HP the nc6000 (business model -- see hp.com under business notebooks) is the equivalent to the IBM, Toshiba, and Dell 14.1" -- it rates 8.5 on Cnet and the only shortcoming there is no firewire (consumer notebooks like M30 and X1000 have that) but you may not need that. Check the other business notebooks for that feature if you want it as some don't have that either (but most people are fine with USB 2.0 if you won't do video editing).
A 5400rpm hard drive can access up to 50% faster than a 4200 rpm hard drive. This will give you a faster system startup. For web surfing (wi-fi) your 2MB L2 system cache and RAM are more important but if using intensive programs that access the hard drive a lot than the hard drive speed increase will benefit you.
I am trying to find the right laptop that will be reliable plus give me the features I am wanting. The features I want are Windows XP home or professsional, 256 RAM (I will upgrade on my own after purchase), SXGA screen resolution (just something better than 1024x768), 32 or 64MB dedicated video graphics memory (which is better?), at least 40 GB hard drive (not sure whether 4200 or 5400 rpm is better..is it okay to just have 4200?), I prefer to have at least a 1.7 or 1.8 Ghz processor, CD-RW/DVD drive, and wi-fi (802.11b/g). I'm looking at a Dell 600M, Toshiba Tecra A2 or Satellite M30, or IBM T42. (IBM is a little more out of my price range, but if it's really better than the others, I can do it.)
Any advice? I know Toshiba is known for being a little more reliable, but doesn't come with as many thrown in extras like Dell. And I can't customize the IBM just how I want it.