Laptops are pretty much a commodity item these days, not really expected to live more than a couple of years, and obsolesce by then anyway. Most laptops will only accept proprietary parts (unless you go for PCMCIA or USB add-ons, in which case the platform itself machts nichts). We use Thinkpads at work, they're fine & dandy, if pricy. My only experience with Toshibas is from a long time ago, and they were crap. My kids both have Dells and have had no problems with them (son is finishing his Sophomore year so has had his Laptop 2 years, daughter's had hers one year). We've had HP desktops for them in the house and I've been less than highly impressed with them, but they're old now anyway. Depending on how much faith you have in the university's "computer store" - and what kind of service they offer, what arrangements they have with manufacturers, etc. it might not hurt to go with their notions. On the other hand, they may be recommending a particular brand because they get the best margin on it. Hard to say for sure.