Likely a common question. I've browsed local stores and have found the following options. I'll be using this mainly for research and document prep (perhaps large PDF generation and such). I'd like to not have trouble watching DVDs, and would like to be able to write documents while listening to music with no trouble (i.e. sufficient RAM).
It looks to me like that Lenovo G550 is pretty decent for $479. (although going for the Y450 at $599 might be better.)
I usually find the best laptop prices at http://www.techbargains.com/catsearch.cfm/0_3_0 although many of these may not be available in CA. I would assume some of the Dell and Lenovo prices should be at least similar in Canada though...
Thank you deadlocked. Do you not think my choices are good ideas? Any reason why?
I've had some bad experiences with Asus and I really want to go for something new.
As for Lenovo: I understand for lower-end laptops, Lenovo tends to be a bit more expensive. Is there really an advantage to spending 500$ on a Lenovo with lower specs when I can get one of the HPs mentioned in the first post?
For anyone who can't access my links, here are the brief specs:
Basically my argument was just against AMD laptop offerings. AMD doesn't really match Intel's technology in terms of battery life and performance. There is nothing wrong with them, and they will work just fine, but if you can find a core 2 duo even near that price range it will be better.
Ironically, Asus is reputed to be one of the most dependable laptop makers, and HP to be one of the worst, but I understand if you have a preference. HP does provide good components for the price though, so if you keep your warranty its probably a worthwhile purchase.
(its sad you are in CA--today I saw a deal for an HP laptop with a brand new i3 processor for $599)
I'm out of ideas :-), but you might wait to see if anyone else has something... ideally a fellow Canadian.
While Asus has a good rep, i don't think it competes with the dell in price/performance.
On that Inspiron I think the processor upgrade is very important, and you might also consider the 6-cell battery if you think you need it.
The only other price hikes i would consider are the debatable options to upgrade ram and hard drive. 3 Gb is probably enough, but your integrated graphics will use up some of it--so the extra certainly couldn't hurt.
Instead of getting a bigger hard drive I would save up and later buy an external hard drive that you keep at home to back up data on. This will be cheaper than getting a bigger one in the computer, and will give you a backup. You should be able to find 500GB for about $50.