I'd go with the Dell 600m series....
....agree....w/ centrino and gigabit ethernet...they are the way to go
I have the 8500 which is the big brother to the d600 line....
....don't get one that has a p4 processor....if you want power, go a64...if you want to save the heat/weight/battery, go Pentium M..I personally wouldn't go anywhere in between
Having recently researched the market for laptops myself (looking over Toshiba, Gateway, Sony, Dell, HP, Compaq, eMachines, and Sager), I can offer the following two brands / models as the best from my perspective:
The good: Price, support (although it has been questionable as of late), raw feature set, and out-of-the-box reliability.
The bad: Flimsy construction, excessive heat and noise.
Analysis: I personally own a P4-based 8500, and while I enjoy its raw performance and great battery life, I cannot say that I am pleased by its physical design. It is by no means solidly-built, and the casing scratches easily. Whether gaming or surfing the Internet, the machine runs extremely hot, and it houses a noisy fan that gives me a headache. Trying to hear games (with the built-in GeForce4 Ti4200), movies, etc. is almost impossible because of the fan noise.
Hey, it's my notebook. I can complain!
Centrino... specifically, the Pentium M processor, is however an excellent choice, given that it runs cooler than the P4. I have not had the experience of using this chip inside a Dell, however I must be quick to point out that the physical construction of Dell notebooks is relatively similar across the board.
If you decide on a Dell, be sure to take advantage of some of the special coupons you can often find on http://www.bensbargains.net
. (They very recently had a $500 off a Dell notebook of $1499 and up)
The good: Price, extreme performance, low noise and heat
The bad: Hefty size and weight, excessive software
Analysis: Had this notebook out a year ago, I would have gotten it instead of the Dell. Why? First of all, the Athlon 64 brings a lot to the table: very good performance-to-power ratio (compared to both P-4 and P-M), no-execute (NX) virus protection feature, 64-bit compatibility. See this thread
for some more on the matter.
The R3000Z also has more than 2x the heatsink surface area of my 8500, with dual dynamic low-RPM fans to keep air moving over it. I typically use my machine on a desk or table, and furthermore I keep myself in good physical condition, so I am not so concerned about the weight or size.