Laptop suggestions

 OG computer buying/building experts, my dad is looking to buy his 1st laptop.

If buying a new laptop, what manufacturer do you currently recommend? I have heard the HP/Compaq is the most solid company with good products as Dell is moving their manufacturing back to China and Gateway went under or at least declared bankruptcy.

He's basically looking for something average in all aspects. What specs should he look for, (i.e. do not get a processor slower than X, a screen smaller than X, RAM less than X, memory below X). Are there any other specs to consider?

I bought mine, a refurbished IBM Thinkpad from for less than $500 2 years ago and have been for the most part, happy with it. The minor problems I have had with mine were apparently due to the Refurbisher not putting it back together carefully (literally not screwing things back together tightly). That being said, any recommended sites other than tigerdirect for buying new or used?

Buying a new Thinkpad would mean buying a Lenovo, the company that bought the IBM Thinkpad brand and now makes them in a cheaper fashion and therefore at a cheaper price. I have had a friend build and buy one from but he already needs repair and is having trouble in getting this done with Lenovo's minimal service.

Thanks in advance and feel free to pick apart any points above!

IT ground...