I can confirm that the display is the worst ever I've seen in the last 8 years. It's even worse than the one of my Asus 1025C 10" netbook, they could make some efforts! I recognized myself in the sentence "users will find themselves constantly tilting the display". It's extremely annoying. The black is light gray. You're forced to reduce the brightness to reduce the annoyance. You stop seeing clear well before getting a black background!
The keyboard is extremely unpleasant and causes false strikes all the day, especially the stupdily placed arrow keys, which are stuck together 2 by 2 without any space in between, so when you press left, 1/3 times you press PgUp at the same time and get anywhere else in your document. I don't understand this new trend of these chicklet keyboards, they're the a revamped version of what we had in 1980 on cheap personal machines, but with less space between the keys since they try to limit the width! And their placement of the Fn and Ctrl keys is so stupid (you can't press Ctrl-A by default) that they even propose in the BIOS to swap them! I found it stupid to do so until I was too much exceeded and decided to do it. So I press Fn when I need Ctrl and Ctrl when I need Fn... And I sometimes get them wrong. I can't swap them because they're not the same size.
The touchpad is too sensitive and tends to click when you move it (awful for web browsing, it becomes scary to use it for online shopping, really). The touchpad buttons work when they want. Sometimes I find myself hammering them with my hand after too many misses.
Ah, I forgot to talk about the "speakers". They have the same sound as a low-end mobile phone placed on the table. I found that you don't even hear the beginning of some MP3s which start with a bass track. And the volume is so low that you can't even hear what people say in a youtube video if someone else is talking in the office. So you absolutely need some earbuds. Not very important, but this adds to the disappointment.
I've used an HP NC8000 for 8 years, it did its time, but what a massive deception to fall that low in the range, especially for such a high priced notebook which is not even on par with entry-level netbooks in terms of quality of the human interfaces! Thinking that my old $200 Asus 1005HA had a better display tends to irritate me!
Oh and it's full of design mistakes. For example, the power led is... behind! So you regularly see your laptop stop because your power supply is not correctly plugged! No caps lock led either, to add to the keyboard discomfort, so if you hit it inadvertently, you don't know it until you type all caps.
Its only good point is the battery life which is pretty good (about 7 hours), but for this you need the intel version, not the nvidia one, of course!
Overall, I'm constantly thinking about replacing it when I'm using it, but I don't know with what. Laptops have got so bad these days... At least I'm certain this one will not last 8 years. If it does not die in one year, it will probably be because I'll have passed it to someone else.
All of the systems you mention should have the computing power to do everything you want to do. As someone who has owned a W520, T520, and T430 and spens a lot of time in CAD and other engineering software, I'd recommend going with the T530 with the 1600x900 screen. This screen is bigger and better quality than the T430 screen, and the machine is about the same price. If you are at all serious about picture quality, don't even think about the consumer grade idea pads: 1366x768 is too low of a resolution for a 15.6" screen and the glossy finish will drive you bonkers while doing engineering work.
I'm hoping for a Lenovo Ideapad U510 review soon? I'm stuck between 3 systems: Thinkpad T430s, Ideapad U510, Ideapad Y580. Colleagues have been recommending a Thinkpad for its reliability. The price points I have for each build is roughly 930 dollars. I don't think I require a "Gaming" Y580 as much as I initially thought. I'd like to CASUALLY GAME, EDIT VIDEOS USING CYBERLINK POWERDIRECTOR, RUN AUTOCAD 2D FOR ENGINEERING PROJECTS, WATCH YOUTUBE/NETFLIX/HULU, SURF INTERNET, WRITE REPORTS ON WORD.
Slimmer without the drawbacks. The T430s is sold as both a thinner, lighter variant of the standard-size T430 and as a successor to the T420s with an AccuType keyboard. We find out in this review what sacrifices, if any, had been in order to offer the overall smaller package.