1. What is your budget? The lower, the better; under $1000 USD but I could go up to $1500 for the right configuration.
2. What is the size of the notebook that you are considering? 13"-15.6". I'm not looking for an Ultra Portable or a Desktop Replacement.
3. What screen resolution do you want? I would go for at least WXGA+ (1440x900) on a 15". 1280x800 would probably be a good resolution, or 1366x768. I'd prefer a little more rather than a little less.
4. Do you need a portable or desktop replacement laptop? Somewhere between the two. I do need to be mobile, but I'm not going to sacrifice performance for portability. Most of the time the laptop will be sitting on a desk at home, work or school, and will be traveling with it. I need the power mostly for audio and video processing, but I already have a desktop
5. How much battery life do you need? The more the better, but 2-3 hours should be enough . I'd love to have four hours, at least for 2D apps and games and casual browsing when traveling; two hours for 3D games would be fine. I'll be near an outlet when doing anything power intensive/draining.
6. Do you want to play games with your laptop? Yes. 6b. If so then please list the games that you want to with the settings that you want for these games. (Low,Medium or High)? Mostly MMOs: Everquest I/II, Guild Wars, Guild Wars II, FFXI, FFXIV, LOTRO. Diablo I & II, Diablo III when it comes out. GTA4, Some FPS, Steam games, Starcraft II, Dragon Age Origins, Dragon Age II. I don't expect to run all of them on High settings, nor to I expect this to play Crysis. As long it can play older games smoothly, and current/future games competently.
7. What other tasks do you want to do with your laptop? (Photo / Video editing,watching movies, Etc.) Writing, surfing, email, photo viewing. Video editing - 3d,max,maya,after effects,, accounting and general office suite applications - heavily multi-task. Photo shop, watching HD content.
8. How much storage (Hard Drive capacity) do you need? Capacity is not an issue; I have plenty of external storage options. My primary focus is speed. I'm not ready to invest in an SSD yet (unless the price is right) but I would require 7200 rpm, at minimum.
9. If you are considering specific sites to buy from, please post their links. No preference. As long as the site is reputable. I would place a priory on websites that don't charge tax, but being a California resident that is difficult to find.
10. How long do you want to keep your laptop? Two-three years,
11. What kind of Optical drive do you need? DVD ROM/Writer,Bluray ROM/Writer,Etc ? I probably need at least a DVD drive to install software. I don't care about Blue Ray.
12. Please tell us about the brands that you prefer to buy from them and the brands that you don't like and explain the reasons. I have no real brand preference, as long as the selected machine is reasonably sturdy.
13. What country do you live in? U.S.A.
14. Please tell us any additional information if needed.
I was looking at three different laptops from Dell, HP and Acer initially. The XPS 14/15, the Envy 14 and the Aspire AS5742G-7200, respectfully.
The Dell and the Acer both have Core i5-460M, NVIDIA 420M, while the HP has Core i5-450M, ATI HD 5650. Disappointingly, the Acer is limited only by a 5400 rpm HDD and 1066MHz DDR3 RAM. But for the price, it's hard to expect at least 1333MHz.
At minimum, these are the specs I am looking for in a laptop:
Intel Core i5
Faster is always better, in this case I would take a faster dual core processor over a slower quadcore processor. However, if the price is right and the performance significant, I'll happily consider i7. In terms of price, performance, and battery life I am looking at i5.
13-15.6", and standard widescreen support. Full HD, WXGA+ (1440x900), etc.
NVIDIA GeForce GT 400M series minimum for NVIDIA, and ATI HD 5650 minimum for AMD GPU.
1gig minimum of dedicated DDR3 memory, or 515 dedicated DDR5 memory.
Capacity isn't a priory.
4GB, minimum. I multitask so 6GB would be ideal, but only if the price is right. I would prefer least 1333MHz, but as I understand it this is limited by the processor? This would be one of the situations where I'd consider i7 configurations if the price was right.
Standard USB, 3 or more, for video ports I require VGA and HDMI. Standard audio jacks.
I would like some nice quality speakers, something comparable to Dell's XPS. Built in surround speakers where possible.
Bluetooth support would be lovely. As would be USB 3.0 (if you haven't notice, there is a reoccurring speed theme here.) A backlit keyboard would be a nice bonus.
I don't necessarily need a 15" laptop, I'm just more familiar with 15" resolution; if there is a 14" with a WXGA+ resolution that would be perfect.
The HP Eny 14 is a great choice; which is why I was originally considering it. But I wanted to see what other I options I had with similar configurations. In particular the graphics card and memory.
As I mentioned in my OP I could conceivably go up to $1500 USD. In that price range I'm looking for a quality build with all the extras I specified, like USB 3.0, Blacklit keyboard and Bluetooth support.
The TOSHIBA Qosmio DOES look amazing, unfortunately it's screen is way too large. I am not looking for a desktop replacement and anything larger than 15/16" is just too much.
If there is another system exactly like that or similar in specs, but with the appropriate screen size and resolution, that would be the perfect laptop for me.
MSI GX660 is one of the best notebooks within your budget,it only lacks Backlit keyboard.
Another option is Sager NP8690 which is great but lacks backlit keyboard as well.
So,you have to go with either AW M15x/ASUS G53JW which both have backlit keyboards but have less battery life than GX660 and are significantly more expensive too.
by defining screen size you made decision real easy, go for Dell XPS 14 or HP envy 14, but i will prefer XPS over envy because of excellent build quality and sound and it will provide you around 3.5-4hrs standby. http://www.dell.com/us/p/xps-14/pd.aspx