Screen real estate is a big deal. 1920x1200 at ~15".
There are two things I look for first in a laptop: Does it have a ~15" WUXGA screen, and does it have a trackpoint. After that look for CPU, battery life, etc.
I used to be quite happy with the D8** Latitudes, but when Dell stopped offering WUXGA I had to look elsewhere and opted for a Thinkpad W500 from a Lenovo outlet.
Screen resolutions meant for the average movie-watching consumer are not quite suitable for software developers. 16:10, 1920x1200 is needed for a ~15" screen.