They are nearly identical in specifications -- the Toshiba has 64mb Nvidia dedicated video and the HPZT3380 (ZT3000 series) (or identical except for appearance and ridge on touchpad) Compaq X1480 (X1000 series.
Circuit City has all 3 of the machines I have cited above.
The Toshiba M35S456 is a great value if you want the DVD burner (burns all formats +/- -- HP/Compaq only burns DVD +). It also has the new Trubrite XGA screen (similar to Sony Xbrite) which has a thin glasslike layer that makes the LCD very attractive.
However, it can cause reflection/glare if you have a lot of light in the back (or outside) so some people don't want that for that reason. View the Toshiba next to the HP or Compaq at Circuit City and decide for yourself.
The Toshiba weighs 6.2 pounds and runs a bit more hot (can feel heat around the touchpad when running and the rubber feet are slightly higher in the back to accomodate more airflow as it is needed).
The HP/Compaq run nearly silently in normal operation with the fan not even running unless using the CD/DVD drive or the hard drive alot. It weighs 6.5 pounds.
Both of these are 15.4" LCD widescreens of course.
The retail for the Toshiba is $1999 but Circuit City and Fry's electronics had it for 150.00 off in the last month (one week sales).
If you really don't need the DVD burner CD-RW/DVD ROM is enough for most people in a notebook) you can order custom and also adjust other components (CPU, memory, hard drive capacity and speed) as you want.
For example, you can save money by getting 256MB instead of the 512mb standard in most prebuilt retail notebooks and add 256mb later for much less or add 512mb for only about $100 (for total of 768mb) from Crucial. Rememmber, notebooks only have 2 RAM slots.
Both of these notebooks can be custom ordered online.
I have the X1360US Compaq (older Pentium M 1.4 Banias as I bought it in May 2004).
If your order custom through HP/Compaq or Toshiba (or order HP/Compaq through Costco.com which also gives you a 6 month return policy in addition to the manufacturer warranty --- 1 year) than you can get a $100 rebate on either the ZT3000 or X1000.
The keyboard feel is better on the X1000/ZT3000 -- so try viewing the Trubrite on the Toshiba -- if you like that better buy it. Especially if you want to order custom and like the keyboard feel consider the HP/Compaq.
There is a dedicated forum for the X1000/ZT3000/nx7000 (all the same except for appearance and the touchpad ridge only on the X1000) at www.x1000forums.com -- I have found this extremely valuable for getting the right configuration, becoming aware of software updates to correct some issues, and to become aware of all the ways you can save additional $ when ordering custom.
You can order the Toshiba custom online as well (as the M30 --also you can order the M35S456 prebuilt online). You can read postings about Toshiba and Dell at www.notebookforums.com
These are the 2 notebooks I looked at myself before buying the Compaq X1360US but now Toshiba has the Trubrite LCD so that is a new thing in their favor.
If you order a HP/Compaq without the DVD burner, get the 1.6 Pentium M Dothan ($125 less custom than the 1.7 on the prebuilt notebooks above) and get 256mb (add your own later) you can get one for less than $1500 ..............
Does anyone know which computer is a better buy? M35-S546 is more expensive than the ZT3380. What is the major difference of the two?