Unfortunately, I was recently burgled. The thieves decided not to take the thousands of euros' worth of skis and climbing gear but did decide to make off with my laptop. Well I'd never liked that Lenovo G580 anyway, so it was the perfect excuse to buy something more in-line with my preferences; enter the Thinkpad!
On the surface it looks like I haven't got much of an upgrade at all; the G580 had a third generation i3 (Ivy Bridge), whereas the T520 has a 2nd generation i5 (Sandy Bridge). The specs for these processors look pretty much the same, the only noticeable difference being that the Ivy Bridge all have HD4000 integrated graphics, whereas the Sandy Bridge have to settle for HD3000. This is not too surprising as Sandy/Ivy have the same microarchitecture, there is only a die shrink between the two generations. In addition the amount of memory that I have gone for (4GB) is the same as I have had previously. Any additional peripherals such as Bluetooth connectivity are not likely to be a game-changer for me.
Where I think the T520 will shine, however, is in terms of build quality. Thinkpads are reknowned for their superior build quality and their ease of maintainance; Lenovo even supplies manuals on how to replace parts yourself, which is unusual for a laptop vendor. In addition the Thinkpad keyboard is also well-known for its ease of use and the presence of the Trackpoint "nub" mouse will, I feel, really come into its own in my increasingly terminal-based workflow.
Because of the reputation that thinkpads have for being solid, I didn't have too many qualms about purchasing a refurbished one, the important point being to buy from a decent refurbisher. I chose microdream as they seemed to have a reasonable reputation on ebay and TrustPilot. They are also a Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, and although I have no idea what that actually means it certainly gives a certain sense of authority.
I'm greatly looking forward to getting my hands on this new (to me) piece of kit and testing out how it all runs under Linux (although the prognosis looks good). There will undoubtedly be a post at some point about how I finally set things up and all the nice ricing that comes along with that.