I'm not surprised there's been no answers yet. This forum is only marginally more popular than the watercooling and networking forums.
Still, I did think that there might be some engineering types out there who have notebooks of this type, who haven't lost some of their hearing and who could give me some feedback. I obviously work with people that use these machines but the environment is too noisy to be able to assess how noisy their laptops might be. And I'm not about to invite someone I barely know back to my hotel room so that I can listen to their computer. Geekiness is very much frowned upon in my profession.
Graphics card is for CAD. Whether or not I need the extra power of the Quadro FX 880M that's found in the workstation class laptops as opposed to the NVS 3100M found in the Thinkpad T510 and Dell latitude, for instance; I don't know. There is quite a jump in performance but that comes at a cost of around £200 and a larger power brick. You might well be right in saying that something like a T510 would be better than a W510 and it also comes with switchable optimus graphics.
As far as the display goes, 16:9 is garbage unless it's for watching movies but the fact is, as you say, that's pretty much all that's available on a new 15" laptop. I would love to be able to get something with a good quality 4:3 screen with a resolution of 1600 x 1200. A 17" @ 1920 x 1200 would be nice but would also be too big and heavy.
The other reason for going for a workstation class machine is of course the build quality. I take my laptop on site with me and it needs to be robust and durable but not to the extent that I would consider getting a Panasonic Toughbook - they are very expensive.