I got too used to the convenience of a laptop this year, and while I don't want to give up my desktop, I've started looking for good deals on laptops. Ultrabooks are nice, but they're way too expensive. My price range is more the $400 one, and I'm ok with a laptop that's bulky and heavy.
The laptop would be primarily for mainstream use: surfing the 'net, Word/Excel, watching movies, maybe the occasional game (like audiosurf, or equally casual ones; powerful graphics are nice, but I'm not willing to spend more for it). I'd also want to hook up the laptop to an external TV or monitor. I figure any current laptop can handle these tasks, but I'm concerned with the nominal screen resolution and the touchpad/keyboard.
So far the laptops I've seen in this price range have 15" screens with resolutions equitable to my old netbooks. In order to be productive I think 15" is a happy medium, as 13" starts feeling cramped, and anything larger is luxury on a laptop, but the resolutions I'm seeing are pretty sparse. Is this it, or is there a diamond in the rough that has a denser screen? For input, I know that I'm not a fan of Sony's weird textured touchpads (Apple's touchpads are the best, but not for 3x the price), and I much prefer scalloped keys to flat ones.
Am I chasing something that doesn't exist in the $400 price range, or can I get reasonably close?
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