Well, I've run into this too. Not sure which Lenovo laptops you have been disappointed with but since I use the older ones, I haven't run across what you say about them being plastic crap yet. However, my wife has about a year old T430 with i7, etc from work and it seems fine, not much difference from my older T61 and T400s. Screen, keyboard, etc all seem good. Are you sure you are talking about the same level ThinkPad units? Because the ones at Best Buy are crap. The problem with Lenovo is that they have sooooo many versions of their laptops it gets confusing real fast. However, it's safe to say that if the model starts with a T or X, it should be a decent system.
And keep in mind, no where am I trying to totally trash macs, the next mac I get will likely be a MacBook Pro when I want to start messing with video again (but not professionally or anything). I just don't like the iMac for the money and what it is. A MacBook is much more versatile and much easier to sell. That's what an IT Buddy has been using lately and when he's at the office, he just hooks it up to a BAD. (Big Ass Display) And he runs Win8 in a VM because he has to get actual work done at some point as well.
As far as desktop computers, at some point, they all work about the same for basic computing. After that, for high performance needs, I just build from scratch, even for clients. However, the DELL and HP higher end "Workstation" lines are pretty nice but also pretty pricey.
I believe these were the specs on the one I got for a contract job:Description
ThinkPad T520 - 1 Yr Depot Topseller Warranty
Processor: Intel Core i7-2640M Processor (2.80GHz, 4MB L3, 1333MHz)
Operating system: Windows 7 Professional 64
Operating system language: Windows 7 Professional 64 English
Windows XP Mode: Microsoft Windows 7 XP Mode - English
Display type: 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) LED Backlit Anti-Glare Display, Mobile Broadband Ready
System graphics: NVIDIA NVS 4200M Graphics with Optimus Technology, 1GB DDR3 Memory
Total memory: 4 GB DDR3 - 1333MHz (1 DIMM)
Keyboard: Keyboard US English
Camera: 720p Camera
Hard drive: 500 GB Hard Disk Drive, 7200rpm
Optical device: DVD recordable multiburner
System expansion slots: Express Card Slot & 4 in 1 Card Reader
Battery: 9 cell Li-Ion Battery - 55++
Power cord: Country Pack North America with Line cord & 90W AC adapter
Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0
Integrated WiFi wireless LAN adapters: ThinkPad b/g/n
Integrated mobile broadband: Integrated Mobile Broadband - Upgradable
Language pack: Language Pack US English
Microsoft productivity software preload: Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 (North America) and Adobe Acrobat X Standard - English
Accessories and options:
ThinkPad Battery 55++ (9 Cell - T410/420, T510/520, W510/520, L Series)
ThinkPad Mini Dock Plus Series 3 (170W) (US/Canada/LA)
Kensington MicroSaver Security Cable Lock from Lenovo
I opened it up and bumped it up to the max 8GB.
This isn't the actual invoice spec, his was an early spec, but I did load this thing up to the max on about everything the Lenovo site offered. I wasn't paying for it (contract deal I had for a job going on)...so, I loaded it up.
Job was finished, so it went back to the contractor....I've played with the old IBM thinkbooks, and even the old ones, feel and work like tanks. But this thing just felt flimsy to me, right out of the box, and talk about a PITA to get the RAM changed out of it...no real instructions even on the Lenovo site, the definitive guide I found was a guy out there who had had a hell of a time getting his swapped out, and decided to blog about how to do it.
I have to say, the MBP I got (Late 2011), I really like.
I like that I got the last model where YOU can change out the ram yourself. I dunno if I'd get a new one since I believe they are now soldering the RAM onto the boards and the user can't change it.
The walled garden concept is starting to bug me a bit, but for my model of MBP, well, it works for me. I found I could bump it up to 16GB and it blazes, heck, I can even run Davinci Resolve on it...I have to turn sound off when playing back, as that that slows it a bit, but I can still grade with that.
And anyone that is looking to get a MBP but is afraid to change (someone in this thread mentioned having to get used to the new paradigm, and maybe having to buy Adobe all over again)....just get VMware and install it on there and install Win7 as a VM on your MBP.
Frankly, I find it is the best solution currently for all worlds. I run OSX, Win7 and LInux on one box all concurrently, and can pretty much even drag and drop between them all when running.
The operating system is quickly becoming a commodity with VMs so, do consider that as an option.
And at one time, I was developing a real time application with development tools on the Win7 VM, that was talking through to the outside world via a USB to RS232 serial connector...Tool on Win7 in a VM talking through a specialty controller cable...
And it worked fine without a burp.
So, IMHO, going forward, VMs are the way to go...do it all on one box if you can.