I'm looking at buying a ThinkPad W520, 15.6" display. Do I get 1600x900 or 1920x1080 for $300 more? I imagine the most significant factor is scaling HD movies to the smaller resolution, any experience with that?
Well it depends on what you are interested in. The standard 1600x900 resolution screen is a TN panel while the 1920x1080 screen is an H-IPS or S-IPS panel. Huge difference in the cost of manufacturing which is why it is a rather steep upgrade.
For watching movies on a relatively small screen, I would say the difference shouldn't be that great when watching a 1080p on either a 1080p or 900p screen. Shrinking down a high resolution movie to fit a smaller resolution screen is not nearly as bad as stretching a smaller resolution movie to fit a larger resolution screen.
If you are doing photo editing or anything that requires color accuracy, then the $300 for a higher resolution IPS panel would be worth it. If you are just a "normal user", then perhaps sticking with the standard 1600x900 resolution would be the less expensive choice.
If it were me I would be somewhat conflicted. I definitely prefer an IPS panel over a TN panel any day of the week and I would perfer a 1920x1080 resolution screen on a 15.6" laptop. But the $300 upgrade option, just barely high enough to make myself wonder about spending that extra cash. I might just have to down an entire bottle of scotch just to convince myself that the upgrade is worth the $$$.
Just general purpose computing, to replace my faithful ThinkPad R60 from 2006. I have been known to do some photoshop from time to time. Color accuracy is important, but I haven't necessarily been annoyed with the results from my current laptop. Could someone link me to a good explanation of TN vs. IPS? I found the 520 for $1300/$1600, a bargain compared to the 530 at ~$2500. I am just really enticed by the 1-to-1 nature of the 1080p display. If it were a hundred bucks cheaper it'd be a no-brainer.