It's all a matter of irrationalization.
For years, we have been assured by friends that we will never be fully human until we switch to Mac. Since many of those same people--greater than chance, I believe--are not fully human, I find the argument unpersuasive. (I will, however, be open to being convinced by what I read in this forum, now that you have opened the topic.)
As long as I have had laptops, I have had ThinkPads from IBM. They have always been a nice little machine, inexpensive through their outlet, durable, portable, black, and with the warranty program/attitude to end all warranty programs. When they spun off that division to Lenovo a year or two ago, I took a wait-and-see attitude. I have now waited, and I have now seen how different our lives will be as Chinese industry takes over providing one after another of our daily needs. Too bad we owe them somewhere between $1 and $7 t-t-trillion (that number always makes me stutter), and can't, as a nation, opt out of buying their products.) 
So far, thank goodness, I have only service/warranty experience with Lenovo. In the interest of NEVER buying an actual computer from them, a few months ago I bought a used ThinkPad (oh, hey, it's writing to you now) which has its flaws but cost $350 for a pretty good setup. Then, upon more consideration, I acquired on eBay two more ThinkPads, remaindered (probably rebuilt) by IBM and a little higher up the line with my old computers, supposedly receiving their warranty services through IBM. as insurance against ever having to purchase one made by Lenovo. So, if you were counting, I have, when ranged around the table, enough flat black placemats to have a few friends for tea.
But I digress again.
Your account affirms my policy of being in the center of the pack for software upgrades. I'm not a beta kind of person, and I'm still perceiving Vista as a beta kind of place to be. I'll upgrade when adventurers like you have cleaned it up for me, and before I'm too obsolete for my software (so far, everything I might want is still "XP,Vista").
In a different world, where the tooth fairy could be looking to buy a gift for me, I'd ask for the new RED Sony, a centimeter thick and able to leap tall buildings at a bound. In THIS world, where I buy my own computers, I'll take nearly the same system inside a squared black box for $700 instead of the red sports car of computers for $3,700.
 Dropped to a footnote for those who aren't up to reading hysterics today: These trillions are the loan we are paying back--more accurately, paying interest-only--to fight the war that was certain to "pay for itself" and also secure oil at under $40 a barrel for the foreseeable future. Didn't believe it then, not surprised (but definitely p.o.'d) now. [If I were Scott McClellan's mother, I'd give him a good thrashing for being a wimp and a hypocrite when my personal hero, Richard Clarke, stepped up alone.] And now, worst of all, it's screwed up our inalienable right to have great laptop computers with superb maintenance at reasonable prices.
My first computer back in 1998 was a HP Pavilion. I loved it, but I think that was because it was my first computer and I was so enthralled with the whole idea of the Internet and being able to keep in touch with far-flung relatives and shop online and all that good stuff. Despite the fact that DH was fanatical about virus protection and spyware removal, and did scan disks and defrags on a frighteningly regular basis, the system only lasted about two years and then it started to have one problem after another. When it totally died at the end of its third year (two DAYS after the warranty ran out), I was so disgusted with HP that I bought a Dell Dimension 4500.
That was almost five years ago and that Dell is still running like the day it was delivered to my door. I am running Windows XP Pro as my operating system. I had wanted just plain XP, but when I first bought the computer I was working for a woman who builds websites doing the digital photo retouching, and I had the computer hooked up to a network, so XP Pro was the best choice for being able to keep my own stuff private.
Two months ago I received a small settlement from a fall that I took two years ago at the grocery store, and DH convinced me to buy another computer. He's afraid that despite his best efforts, eventually the Dell Dimension 4500 is going to just give up the ghost, and he knows that at this point, if I have to go without a computer, life will not be sunshine and roses. So in order to ward off the cataclysm that ensues any time I am cut off from the Internet for any appreciable amount of time, the day I got the settlement we purchased a Dell Inspiron 1521. It's the smaller of the Inspirons, but I didn't want to spend over $1000 on a second computer, so I went with the smaller one. All I can really tell it's "missing" is the side keypad with the second set of numbers on it, and if I really want one that badly I can buy an external keypad that plugs into a USB port. The one thing that really worried me about the Inspiron was that ALL new computers now are coming out with the Vista operating system on them, and I had heard nothing but horror stories from people about Vista. "It's no good!", "It *****!", "It won't let you do anything!", there were a million "I hate it!" stories about Vista. I had the option to "downgrade" to Windows XP on the laptop, but it would have cost me an extra $200 to do it. If I wanted to spend $200 more I would have bought the larger Inspiron. I felt that $800 was enough to spend on a laptop. Well, I've gotta say, after using it now for about 8 weeks, I don't hate it at all, in fact, it has SOME features that I think are actually kind of neat! Once again, DH has made sure that my anti-virus programs and spyware programs are the best we can get, and he does regular maintenance on both computers, so I'm hoping to have both machines around for a long time to come. I really like the idea that it's portable and I can take it places with me. I take it to the pool, I take it to the doctor's office, I take it to friends' houses, it pretty much goes where I go. Well, that and my crochet stuff. LOL But I found that I worried for nothing over having to switch to Vista. Bottom line - I'm really happy with my Dells and with both XP Pro AND Vista. At least for now. :)
You actually did that, eh? I came SO CLOSE to buying an old think pad on e-bay also, but chickened out at the last moment. How easy is it to get replacement batteries? Spare parts, I could get from another thinkpad, but batteries...well, unless you can get them fresh, they're all dead now. :)
What are you running on, windows 2000? Did they ever get that working right? From what I remember it was as bad as windows 98 at the start.
Oh, and DON'T get me started on the U.S. economy, or China. Did you know that China holds so many U.S. Bonds that if they were to cash them in, our nation would be bankrupt over night? It's a huge leverage against us and something of a joke. In terms of world powers, people stress over whether they're stronger than us, yet all they have to do is call in a debt and we'd be fubar'd.
Heh heh...I've got an HP pavillion 6000 right now. My biggest complaint is it's heavy as far as laptops go and you have to watch out for overheating (I use an external fan so it's not an issue).
I'll admit, there are visual aspects of Vista I like better than XP, and in some ways they made some of the things a bit more clever than with XP. But it is a recent alpha/beta release, so it's got some issues.
My BIGGEST problem is auto update. I've had nightmares come up from auto-update, so I shut it down. Those updates tend to be VERY glitchy (I'm gonig through one right now. Been three days trying to figure out which update I allowed caused the problem. I THINK I figured it out finally).
The Inspirion was my second choice, actually, but I think the pavilion offered more graphics speed (although, not to much).
I don't know if you saw on the addiction social board, but I was talking about the 6TO4 and ISATAP adaptors which ALWAYS fail to load the drivers properly in vista. I'm told it's a non issue for personal use, but it's an example of shoddy programming that was done to rush vista out originally that they didn't adjust this situation!
Never stopped off at 2000, never thought it was a good idea. Kind of a stepchild, I thought.
I've run XP Pro for quite a long time. So far as I can see, it's still kind of the flagship and Vista is still kind of Beta.
Parts: I have ordered adapter cords directly on eBay, from a source in....drum roll...China, much cheaper than from IBM or Lenovo. When one didn't work, they simply sent another and said don't bother returning the first. Of course, vendors on eBay don't always stay there forever.
I haven't bought a battery in some time, but no question they are fading. I have so many cords now that I'm not pushed to replace batteries, but one of these days I'll check that on eBay as well.
"...ALWAYS fail to load the drivers properly in vista. I'm told it's a non issue for personal use..." -- WHA?? What are we personal use mavens, chopped liver? I don't buy top-of-the-line software to be treated like a country cousin. Get Bill Gates on the line!!!