I had quite a bit of free time tonight, so I decided to bite the bullet and share the extended version of my story (and I typed all of this on my HTC Touch Pro2, which has the best keyboard among smartphones):
I was very impressed with the first Thinkpad that I bought, a 600E, which quite a few Thinkpad fans continue to regard as the finest Thinkpad ever made. My first laptop was a Dell Inspiron 8200, which I got in Aug 2002. I picked that because it had the most computer for the least money. But I greatly regretted the purchase, because it weighed much more than I had expected, at 8.08 lbs. Prior to that purchase, I knew virtually nothing about laptops and had no idea that some of them could be so big and heavy. I tried carrying it home once and right after getting home, I made up my mind to buy a second laptop that's smaller and MUCH lighter. Having just spent over $1,700 on that pseudo-portable computer, I wanted something much cheaper, so I decided to find something used. A colleague recommended compgeeks.com (now geeks.com), and they happened to have a fairly cheap ($403) 13.3" laptop that weighed only about 5.5 lbs, so I bought it. When ordering that, I knew nothing about the Thinkpad brand, but of course I knew that IBM was a top PC maker and so I expected this to be a good product. And it didn't disappoint: it's extremely well built, had an elegant design, and was far more portable than the Dell. Somehow this 600E had a Windows 2000 COA sticker (which shouldn't have been offered until the 600X), and so I chose to install Win2K on it, which made me favor the 600E over the Dell even more, because the latter had XP and at that time, XP was still quite new and was kind of buggy.
After becoming a laptop owner, I started paying more attention to other people's laptops, and realized that lots of them also had Thinkpads (my institution's computer store sold only Thinkpads and Macs then). I noticed that some of these Thinkpads looked even prettier and weighed even less than my 600E -- one of them was definitely an X24, and several others were probably T40's. So I did more research on Thinkpads and became fascinated by the various models. Then, I discovered that many Thinkpads were available through eBay, and many of them were quite affordable. So, in May 2005, I bought my second Thinkpad, a 240 -- I chose that because it was the smallest Thinkpad that had ever been sold in the U.S. It was this 240 that led me to this forum -- I think I was doing a Google search for the maximum amount of RAM that could be installed on it, and one of the hits was a post on this forum. This 240 got me hooked on tiny ultraportable laptops, and so just five months later, I bought a more modern ultraportable Thinkpad, an X20. Then, that Christmas, someone who used to sell lots of brand-new Thinkpads on this forum (brainpicker, I believe) had a nice X40 for sale, and his price was almost 50% off IBM's list price. The specs were amazing: even lighter and smaller than the X20, had a much larger hard drive, and of course much faster. So I bought that and sold the X20 to my cousin, who still has it and uses it everyday!
That's how my love affair with Thinkpads started. I continued to be obsessed with ultraportables for quite a while (which led me to buy a 12.1" laptop that was even lighter than the X40, the Toshiba Portege R100, even though it wasn't a Thinkpad). But at some point, I started to view multiple documents side by side on my Dell Inspiron 8200's 15.0" SXGA+ screen and realized that multitasking in this manner greatly increased my productivity. That initiated my next phase of obsession: high-res laptops. First, I got a T43 with 14.1" SXGA+, which was followed by an A31p with 15.0" UXGA, and shortly afterward a Dell Inpirson 6000 with 15.4" WUXGA. Then, I accidentally learned about the 15.0" QXGA panel that could be installed on the R50p. I looked up info about it on this forum, and found that one person had done this mod before. After finding out from him what parts I needed for this mod, I bought an R50p, a QXGA panel and all the parts and built my own QXGA R50p. I was so impressed with the super-high pixel density that I built another one just several weeks later. But of course, the R50p is a pretty heavy and bulky machine (though not as bad as the Inspiron 8200), and so I wanted something lighter but with a higher res than SXGA+. That's how I got inspired to put a Dell Inspiron 4100's 14.1" UXGA panel into a 14.1" T42. Then, I wondered if I could transplant the R50p's QXGA into a 15.0" T43p, and succeeded as well. I was the happiest man alive: I had the lightest Thinkpad with a UXGA screen, and the lightest Thinkpad with a QXGA screen (and it's IPS!).
But this love affair didn't last forever. The main problem was that I found the vast majority of Lenovo's widescreen Thinkpads very unsightly. At the same time, the opposite trend was true for some other manufacturers' laptops: as they became widescreen, they actually started to look nicer -- I especially liked many of the Dell Latitudes. Secondly, after playing with many non-thinkpads at retail stores, I found that their build quality was improving rapidly, and quite a few of them actually felt more solid than the Thinkpads. So, last month, when it was time to replace my i Series 1124 and 14.1" UXGA T42, I decided to get the HP Mini 5101 and Dell Latitude D820 listed in my signature. Now, for the first time since Sep 2002, I don't own any Thinkpad, at least not a functional one -- I took the RAM and HDD out of the T42 to get it ready to be sold for parts locally. A bit sad, but I really like this HP and Latitude very much, admiring them every time I walk past them. The Latitude is especially pleasant to work on, both functionally and visually. I am sure an ugly widescreen W510 wouldn't feel the same way.
Panasonic CF-Y7; Dell Latitude E4200, Inspiron7500; Gateway NX860X; Sony VPCX113KG
Desktops:HP Elite 8300 & 8200, dc7900; Dell OptiPlex 9010 & 760, Precision390
LCDs: Dell 3008WFP,U2711,2408WFP,3x 2407WFP,sp2309w,ST2210b,2x 2007FP; HP L2201x; 4x Lenovo L220X; NEC 2070NX; Samsung 2343BWX