I bought this machine from Amazon in early April 2011, so I've been using it for nearly 3 months. I'm a software developer.
It is a great machine with a few minor negatives. First the negatives:
1) Even with the docking station (highly recommended) it will drive only two external monitors, for a total of three if you count the internal screen.
I don't consider this a fatal flaw, as I use a Displaylink device to drive a third big monitor
2) You don't get RAID on this model - if that matters any more
3) Yes, it could use an SSD drive, but that would add a lot to the price
1) Very fast processor. It typically runs all four cores at 3 Ghz and can run a single core at as high as 3.3 Ghz
2) Expandable: I immediately put in 8 more GB of RAM for 16 GB total. Note - I had to remove the keyboard to get to one of the extra RAM slots - no big deal
It also has an Ultrabay - be sure to get the $60 hard disk adapter - and I threw in another 500GB 7200RPM drive.
3) It has 2 USB 3 ports, as well as 1 eSATA/USB combo powered port. This means I can boot from an external 2.5 " hard drive via a special cable (sold on Amazon).
4) It has an mSATA slot for an internal WAN modem OR Micro SSD card - nice!
5) The screen is high resolution and very bright LED back lit. I can easily see it outdoors
6) Rugged, durable build. Good thermal design - runs cool.
7) Three year warranty
There are many more positives, but suffice to say that this is a great, not perfect, but a great machine.
I recently purchased this laptop as my photo editing portable workstation and would like to share with you some of my opinions even if maybe it's still early since less than 2 weeks passed by.
CPU: very very fast, you can really tell the difference from older PCs, Canon 5D Mark II 21 Mpixel RAW files rendering was almost on the fly.
RAM: 8GB seems enough but there's still plenty of space for expansion up to 32GB which probably I'll do once the prices drop down.
HDD: think this is probably the only bottleneck (or at lest this is what I understand using the Windows index). There's still the possibility to add an SSD.
Nvidia Quadro 1000M 2GB: still have to test it with some 3D applications, Optimus seems to work well under Windows, still have to find a way to use it under Linux though.
Fingerprint reader: really nice, it even allows you to turn on the computer and login automatically swiping your finger just once. (I didn't manage to make it work on Linux yet but maybe there's a workaround)
Camera: seems quite good also in low light situations.
Speakers: they seem quite low, but apparently it should be something related to drivers or internal settings and not physical limitations since on Linux or VLC I can boost up the volume over 100%.
USB ports: nice to have 4 of them, but it would have been nice also to have some of them on the right side since 3 of them are placed on the left and one on the back.
Color Calibrator: I've found out sadly it's not present in this specific model, but it is as an option.
Keyboard: comfortable enough but not as good as the Sony Vaio, weird position for the Fn (swappable with Ctrl key from BIOS) and Del keys.
I'd also like to replace it with the Italian keyboard but I don't know where I should get the replacement part nor the price.
The screen looks AWESOME and it's very good it has 15 levels of brightness so it can be extremely dim for the night or very bright for viewing under sunlight.
I haven't tried the Display Port since I have no device to connect it to at the moment.
Thermal design:it is absolutely the coolest laptop I've ever had.
170W Power adapter: a HUGE and HEAVY brick but it does its job, just wish they could build a smaller one.
The top cover of the screen is covered with a weird material which easily collects dust.
Battery life: still have to test it in a better way since I've been using this PC mostly at home, but when I took it with me out I have to say it surely lasted WAY longer than any other laptop I've ever had even if it is so way much powerful.
Overall I'd really recommend this laptop to anyone looking for a mobile workstation to work with graphic and photo/video editing or in any case for a laptop with a very good processing power and long lasting battery life in a 15.6" form factor.
Not much more to say what the first reviewer hasnt already mentioned.
I used a Macbook Pro until now (which had - after < 2 years of use - enough bugs for 3 laptops - fan out of control, cd/dvd drive broken, etc.), and I dont regret switching to the W520 (I own a W520 for a month now). I am doing a lot of Matlab image processing on my laptop, and the performance as well as screen resolution / quality is great (upon purchase, Lenovo lets you choose between 3 different screens with different maximum resolutions - i chose the highest resolution - 1920 X 1080; also they let you choose between 2 different gpus). One unique thing to mention is that you have full control over which graphics processor (integrated vs. Nvidia gpu) your laptop uses when, and for which application separately - i think this is kind of new and unique.
The only thing that bothered me initially was Lenovo's trackpad, which doesnt come close to the comfort of my Macbook pad. Normal cursor control is ok, but e.g. two-finger scrolling is almost impossible. After my initial disappointment, I got really hooked to using the red lenovo track point. It takes one to two days to get used to it, but once you have the hang of it, it's much more convenient for cursor control, scrolling (instead of 2 - finger scrolling, one uses the middle button above the trackpad), etc. than the track pad. So - no complaints there. And if you want to do e.g. technical drawing, you may want to use a mouse in any case...
One thing more that took me a bit of patience to figure out was the fact that - by default - the operating system shuts down and 'unmounts' the physical cd drive when not in use. This is a good feature as it helps saving energy. However, it interferes with the installation and usage of virtual drives (e.g. Daemon tools). Anyway, I figured out that you can easily disable this CD drive - auto-shutdown option. So - if you have the money - stop looking. This is your machine.