I've had enough of this old one. I play a good amount of games, but for now I mainly play TF2, Super Street Fighter IV, Portal 2. I feel like anything would be a huge improvement over my current borderline-defective performance. I don't need to play BF3, but seeing as how that's a common benchmark, presumably any computer that runs it I can count it.
Don't need a monster. I would spend $700 max unless there's a really good deal for just over $700. I want a laptop that plays games, not a chunky desktop replacement. I don't move it frequently, but I don't want it to be a big deal when I do.
Resolution: Standard, 1366 x 768
2+ hour battery life seems adequate.
Portable, but not going out of my way to find one that is exceptionally so. But don't need a desktop replacement.
For games: TF2 and Portal 2 (these need to be able to run medium to high. TF2 is by far my most-played game). Being able to run Skyrim would be good, mainly just so I have some confidence in the system.
I mostly just do work, games, watch videos. Media editing isn't a big deal.
500GB is pretty much the minimum expected for any laptop.
DVDROM/ Writer is adequate.
I usually buy from newegg, but whatever reputable site has the best deal.
I'd guess 4 years. Durable keyboard is vital, components that won't need to be replaced.
Brands I look at, mostly Toshiba. ASUS as well, but that's probably going over $700.
If you're gaming on a hard surface you can skip the cooling pad.
If you need a 'portable hard surface' I actually favor the cooling pads without fans. Just a hard surface to get good airflow for the laptops built-in cooling scheme.