Last week Monday I bought the thing and didn't have time to do much more than sleep once home. Since then I've done more, of course. I considered BLAG (A 64 bit version of Fedora, really), Unity (a group that split off from PCLinuxOS), Arch and ArchBang, and Salix (Slackware with dependency checking). BLAG looked nice aside from not having codecs and since it's Fedora (Red Hat) based, I know from experience what a pain it is to get them. Also, the new release of Fedora has a fair amount of detractors who are going, "Hang on, isn't this supposed to be BETTER than the last one? Why is so much broken?"
I tried Unity and found it was a "base" system - not meant to be run by itself, really, but for other distributions to have a common starting base. I tried ArchBang and it refused to boot, claiming hardware conflicts that nothing else seems to have any trouble with. I have not (yet) tried just plain Arch though I might yet.
The idea of something Slackware-based (fast, non-crufty) with dependency resolution appealed and so SalixOS won out... so far. After squashing Windows 7 into a mere (ha!) 100 GB of the drive and further partitioning the drive to give Linux space to live, I installed the 64-bit version of SalixOS and it seemed to go smoothly. It detected Windows, asked if I want Linux to be able to see the Window partitions and how much access there should be, and set up lilo to dual-boot. Synaptic was there and even Opera was in the repository. Pretty good... but not great.
I've had to edit fstab to get the Windows partitions truly accessible as I intended (user can see it all, but it's read only so as not to risk messing up the NTFS filesystem it uses), I tweaked lilo.conf so Linux was the default and not Windows. I had to use the command line alsamixer to get the speakers to make sound. Alright, it's Slackware-ish and some configuration is to be expected.
But there are two big issues. One is that the wireless setup wasn't discovered on install. Fortuantely the wired stuff works without any issue, so I can do some stuff. I expected to need to do some setup myself with that, but it'd be nice to have the wireless 'card' detected. Supposedly the linux kernel has support for the chip (Realtek rtl8192e if you're curious) so no added driver should be needed. But SalixOS doesn't have the firmware file that would make it work. I've search quite a bit and can't find the file. I can find where it used to be (all dead links) or people talking about it, but not the needed thing itself.
The other is the graphics. For most stuff, the default install works just fine. But for one program, the one I based my buying decision on being able to run, it doesn't work. It flickers. Just the one window. Everything else is fine. I've tried installing the proprietary ATI drivers (ATI Radeon Mobility HD 4200, for what it's worth) and the flickering.. slowed down. I've left a question about that on the Salix forum, but haven't gotten any reply as yet.
I do have some time. I can still return the laptop (30 days...) and maybe try another. Or try another distribution. It is rather frustrating that things that ought to "just work" don't. I've even considering going to the dark(er) side and trying some non-GNOME-ish version of *buntu. I'd rather not do that. Maybe I will try Arch, I can always go back to Salix easily enough if I get a solution for it. Windows? No. I considered it for a bit, but then it reminded me why I hadn't used it in years. Windows 7 does seem a lot like Windows 2000 (for a Microsoft product, that's a compliment) but it was still a relief to boot into something else, even if it was just the partitioning tool... which shrunk the Windows partiton more than Windows claimed was possible.
 Odd to see lilo, as I am now so used to seeing grub as boot manager, but Slackware can be rather old school about things if they still work.