I did not mention it but I am using both the laptop monitor (17") and a Dell 24" widescreen monitor set at 1920x1200 on both. I am not sure I could work any other way anymore. On the speed of editing issue, how many images do you have open in the filmstrip. I normally do not have a large number (usually less than 20) of images open in the filmstrip when I am editing. This feels like a configuration issue but I do not know what it may be. I recently setup a new catalog when I got my D300 and it does not have very many images in it yet and it is faster than my older catalog which has several thousand images. This should not be an issue for the volume of data I have but maybe you have more.
Maybe Michael or Jeff will read this and have a suggestion.
BTW My favorite definition of poverty is having one child attending college, I do not know what I would call having two.
Here is a final update for everyone as I now consider this issue closed since my issues are attributed to the Nvidea desktop manager software.
As previously referenced and mentioned earlier in this thread this software does not behave well with Lightroom. It causes resources to be hogged and drags the PC to it's knees.
Now the performance of my Dell laptop is what I would consider to be very acceptable. Solution, turn off the Nvidea desktop manager software, continue to use the Nvidea display drivers and use Windows to manage the second display.
Here is a summary of a test I ran yesterday. Had Photoshop CS2 open and two images loaded one was about 200mb and the other was 48mb both tiff files. Had Firefox open with 4 or 5 tabs. Opened Lightroom and ran import on a directory with 148 8mb raw files from my MarkIIn. Had Lightroom render full 1:1 previews and apply my Exif and preset data. It took 38 minutes to process the 148 images from start to completion. Watching I noticed that initially it was processing about 6 or 7 images a minute and as time went on it slowed to under 3 per minute at the end. However, there's more to it than this, all the while the import was taking place I was able to continue to use my PC to browse the web and edit in Photoshop. The CPU's were cycling between 60% and 100%, memory usage was averaging 1.25 to 1.4 gb. The time slicing between tasks was taking place and although some activities were delayed for a second or two the computer did not stall or lockup.
One other point I'll mention is that since the Nvidea desktop manager I used was issued through Dell it may be older than what they are shipping with their more current external displays and newer laptops. So it may be worth testing in your configuration.
having two in college is very painfull, but this hobby helps me keep my mind off of it and the next check I have to write, which by the way is tomorrow, Merry Christmas.