I've now done an Etch install on the same Thinkpad I recently used for evaluating seven single-CD distros, and this article explains what I did and how it worked out.
Read it at DesktopLinux
At 15 points, Etch scored just below the lowest-ranked distro in my previous Thinkpad shoot-out — Freespire — which scored 16 points. However, bear in mind that I found it relatively easy to circumvent all the shortcomings listed above, other than the hardware problems. In addition, it seems likely that I'll find ways to solve those hardware problems, too (and without buying new PCMCIA cards), given a healthy dose of perseverance “and a little help from my friends.”