Being a PC enthusiast, I've been building computers since I was 14 years old, and was adding components to them even before that (modems, video cards, etc). Consequently, I don't have any qualms about diving into the guts of a MacBook Pro laptop. Well, maybe a few- this is by far the most I've spent on a machine.
Nonetheless, I made a trip to Best Buy this evening to pick up the Seagate Momentus Hybrid laptop drive. (On a side note, I swore I'd never buy another Seagate drive again after I had a desktop drive that crashed within 6 months... but I have heard a lot of good reviews on this, and will be backing it up regularly). I also grabbed the Apricorn SATA Upgrade kit. It allows you to easily clone a source drive (on either mac or PC) and copy it to a target drive. It comes with a SATA to USB 2.0 cable that appears to be giving me around a 12MB effective rate of copy which isn't bad at all- about 40 minutes to copy the entire source drive. Another side note- In some of my earlier musings, I was originally planning on using Carbon Copy. However, the cable came with "SuperDuper" which is apparently a decent program for cloning drives on the Mac, so I am giving it a shot.
After the copy is done I will be removing the screws from the laptop case and carefully replacing the original drive, which is only a 5400 RPM drive, with the new one (found a decent guide here). The original drive will serve as my backup from this point forward. I am then hoping to pop in the new drive, boot up, notice a significant performance improvement, and then move on to upgrading Leopard to Lion. With any luck the upgrade will work, my applications will be fine, and I'll be able to start using my machine. Otherwise I have my original drive that I can utilize.
Here's to a great Friday evening! (The wife is also picking up some Thai, dropping of the kids, and we've got some movies to watch). Fortunately, most of the work requires little interaction after the hardware stuff is done. With any luck I'll have that out of the way before she gets home!