I bought my wife a new laptop last week (Dell has amazing deals on Core Duo Inspirons, if you're in the market). In any case, I decided to take her (aka my) old laptop and install Vista RC 1 on it.
Now, this laptop sucks. It's a Compaq Presario 1700, 1ghz Pentium III, 512M of RAM, 20G disk. No built-in Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Purchased in January 2002, it was a low-to-mid-range laptop even at that time. I went to Fry's and found one that had a reasonable price/performance ratio and bought that.
But here I am running Vista without issue on this machine. It took a long time to install, though it did on my desktop. It also doesn't run Aero (no accelerated hardware graphics). However, it is running the OS well and with no additional driver help from me. I think I will have to install an ATI driver though because it can sometimes seem a little hitchy when scrolling with the mouse wheel in IE7 (I use a mouse on all laptops). Even without a real video driver, it seems to be keeping up with my typing in Windows Live Writer. Not bad.
I'm getting more excited about Vista thanks to playing around with Windows Presentation Framework and Expression. I really like WPF and am porting my perennial basketball computer software to it. I should have that posted in a week or two.
In any case, for all the hype about Vista's minspec, this really ancient crappy laptop that was barely holding on with XP is running Vista really great. So I have no idea what all of the anti-MS crowd have been talking about with respect to Vista minspec.