At this point in time, if anyone is looking for a laptop… I would only recommend an Apple.
Over the years, the PC guys have just gotten worse and added more cruft on the PC side in order to be like Apple. The end result is a disappointment.
For example, if you want to burn a CD to an MP3 or play a DVD, the bundled software on a PC will require you to go upgrade the app or buy some codec.
On the wifi side, I find that the PC side is overly complicated. Lots of the manufacturers have their own app overriding and fighting with the Windows XP wireless settings. The end result is that they don’t connect a lot of times. I’ve also found their range to be less than that of the typical iBook.
Back to the topic of media: on a recent occasion, a friend tried to play his DVD of his vacation to England and the audio wouldn’t play on a thinkpad (we had to use a TV with a built-in DVD player). On another separate occassion, a bunch of linux guys were trying to get some old Dr. Who videos to play and they just couldn’t pull it off. Enter the guy with the iBook and tada -> playing in no time flat.
Overall, when you take the whole experience in, Apple delivers a solid ‘it just works’ experience on top of the already superior physical design. I will now recommend an Apple laptop for any general user.
Note: I used to be a Thinkpad guy and I’ve seen the lifespan of many Sony Vaio and Dell laptops at the various companies. Laptops in general do not last more than 2 years, so why not enjoy that 2 years.