The Asus UL series are very nice. Some have optical drives, some don't. The "jt" is rumored to be out in a few weeks. It's out of your price range BUT when it comes out, the ones out now will surely drop in price. Wait a few weeks and see!
If you imperatively need an optical drive (which is not that important these days using magiciso) you should look for any of the midsize laptop companies has to offer (such as a dell Inspiron 14 or 15, or any equivalent in other companies...)
But if you really need a huge battery, opt for an eee, and learn to mount .iso