(I am not on Lenovo's payroll, just a happy user.)
I just got a new Thinkpad X201, and will comment on it more in due time. But while I was waiting for it to arrive, something happened that reminded me why I don't have to think twice about buying or recommending Thinkpads.
A friend of mine had spilled a glass of water on her Thinkpad. Well, Thinkpads have drainage holes under the keyboard so the bulk of the water is routed harmlessly out of the bottom. So this was a minor incident. The laptop wouldn't boot for about a day. But once it had dried off, it was back in business. No prepaid shipping box, no trips to the repair store. No discernible lasting damage. None.
Water damage must be one of the most common causes of laptop death. And yet, most computers (Thinkpads excepted) ship with a keyboard that goes zap when you spill something on it. It is astonishing that the spill-through keyboard (or equivalent) is not a standard feature on laptops. It does significantly increase the expected lifetime of your computer.
And it's not just water damage, either. My own X61s has also been through quite a few nasty drops and falls. I fell on it once when I slipped on ice. No ill effects. For the laptop, anyway. And the thing is everyone just expects that level of durability from Thinkpads. There is some serious quality engineering going on at Lenovo.
For crying out loud, the Thinkpads pass the freaking military spec tests for ruggedness. And just for fun, here's a video of a guy driving a motorbike over a Thinkpad.
These things are unbelievable. They are really built to last.