There are a lot of variables, of course, but you might consider Dell's XPS M1210. I configured one with a Core 2 Duo running at 2Ghz, 2Gb RAM, 80GB hard drive (5400RPM). Approx $1750 as configured. It has a shiny 12" display. It's nice and portable and packs a punch. I checked it out at a local Dell kiosk and it's pretty nice. It also seems pretty sturdy.
I also kick around the idea of one of the KillerNotebook machines, but am looking for a 12" display which I don't think they offer.
Well the Kodachi has several features standard that are extras, or not even available on the DELL XPS. For instance.
WebCam, DELL add $99, Kodachi standard
Operating System, DELL Windows MCE, XP Pro upgrade $125, Kodachi upgrade to XP Pro $55.
Memory, DELL shared 1 Gig (on 2 chips) - 2 gigs add $225, Kodachi dedicated 1 Gig on 1 Chip standard - 2 gigs add $110.
Hard drive, DELL 5,400 rpm options only, Kodachi 7,200 rpm standard. Why even bother getting a Core 2 Duo if you are going to slow down your overall system with a 5,400 rpm hard drive?
GPU, DELL GMA 950 (Wow! Thanks), upgrade to a nVidia 7400 option with 256 MB turbo cache that's a fancy way of saying junk shared memory, Kodachi nVidia 7600 256 MB dedicated video memory.
Battery, DELL 6 cell LiOn - add $99 for the 9 cell, Kodachi 9 freaking cell standard!
So when you configure the DELL to these standards:
Intel® Core™ 2 Duo Processor T7200 (2GHz/667MHz/4MB)
Genuine Windows® XP Professional
Integrated Webcam and Mobile Broadband Antenna
1GB Shared Dual Channel DDR2 SDRAM at 667MHz (2 Dimms)
80GB 5400RPM SATA Hard Drive
24X CD Burner/DVD Combo Drive
256MB NVIDIA® GeForce™ Go 7400 TurboCache™
Wireless Card Only: Intel PRO/Wireless 3945a/g
85 WHr 9-cell Lithium Ion Primary Battery
You're at $1,836 then add tax + shipping (which sometimes shipping is free sometimes it isn't. The one thing you won't have at DELL is consistancy. It is more like a shell game than anything.)
A Kodachi at $1,799 base + $55 Windows XP Pro upgrade
So apples to apples your cost is about the same.
The same cost, but not the same system. DELL's nVidia 7400 256MB turbo cache (shared memory) has little in common with the Kodachi's nVidia 7600 256 MB dedicated memory solution other than the first number designation in the name.
A quick look at the Mobil GPU Comparison Page shows that the 7400 is an entry level GPU, no where near the same class as the 7600, roughly half the firepower.
DELL's 5,400 rpm hard drive option (and nVidia 7400 class GPU) takes the raw screaming power of the Core 2 Duo, and essentially makes it like trying to pump fire hose pressure through a garden hose.
This is not a gaming system, this isn't even a well designed system component-wise. This it is a mish mash of components thrown together and marketed under the XPS brand to confuse people and make a lot of money for DELL.
A prime example of DELL not knowing what they are building is that they offer this system with a T7200 2.0 Ghz, T7400 2.16 Ghz and T7600 2.33 Ghz CPU upgrade option. That's silly. I will sell you a T7400 2.16 Ghz or a T7600 2.33 Ghz CPU, but I will also tell you that you are wasting your money. A T7200 2.0 Ghz is plenty of CPU for this system even a T7400 Ghz if you want a little more processing power (which 99% of people don't need). YOU ARE NOT GOING TO GET ANY MORE GAMING PERFORMANCE OUT OF A SYSTEM BY GOING TO A FASTER CPU WHEN YOU HAVE IT MATED TO ANYTHING LESS THAN A 7900 CLASS GPU, THE GPU WILL BOTTLENECK YOUR SYSTEM.
I would have thought they would have kept their XPS brand somewhat elite, but obviously there has been enough of an erosion of the core DELL branding that this system put out without the XPS attached to it was calculated to not cut it.