With mobile computing (laptops and especially phones and pdas) a huge fundamental limitation is the relationship between CPU and battery life. Simply put, the better the CPU the more juice it's going to use, and it makes a very big difference. So you can look for laptops with weak CPUs or mobile chipsets to make a big difference, otherwise look for good software to extend the battery (e.g. Toshiba ships with software that will slow down your cpu etc in order to save battery life).
It does get awfully slow when you use stand-by/hibernate for too long without a proper restart. That's how it's supposed to be I guess, but it's still annoying. That's a memory thing I guess? The T60 has a 60GB harddrive and 1024MB memory... what should I be looking for considering I'm pretty much using my laptop, worktime included, 11-12 hours a day and tend to have a lot of programs and browser tabs open at the same time and dislike restarts?
For XP you should get at least 1GB of RAM, for Vista at least 2GB. Double either for very nice performance.
the T60's speaker is crap, anything more powerful would be good.
This goes against the battery life and size factors, you might want to just consider using external speakers.
I use my laptop just for all the usual things really. The only crunch times I ever have with this one are:
a) when I've had too large a shitload of browser tabs open for too long and it starts eating so much of the CPU the computer slows down (true for Firefox in particular);
That's most likely RAM, not CPU and quite frankly is just due to Firefox being buggy. No matter how much RAM you have it can leak it all away and force you to restart the browser. If you don't use any Firefox plugins I'd recommend switching to Google Chrome (the lack of plugins is the only thing keeping me from switching myself, but it's as superior a browser to Firefox as Firefox was to IE when it launched).
b) when I want edit photos in Photoshop that are like 4,000x2,5000 pixels big ... that slows it down noticeably. (Photos of around 1,800x1,200 px are fine).
This is where a good CPU and especially a good graphics card will help.
I'm not a gamer. I would like to watch movies on the laptop more often though. I don't want a Mac. I don't particularly care about whether the design is hip or anything. Sturdy's good though.
HD video takes a lot of resources, but otherwise anything decent will do for video.
I'm torn on screen size vs weight/handlability - big screen is good but I do carry around my laptop pretty much anywhere, and I do have a large desktop screen at home I could just plug in. What do you go for, small and carryable or panorama large?
I usually have both, but I caution against trying to get anything that tries to be the best of both worlds. If you go small, I recommend getting a laptop that isn't very powerful, if you want a desktop replacement I don't recommend going small.