Here's what I'm currently going to use as my selection criteria:
- 14" - 15" screen (what is important in a laptop screen, e.g., resolution?)
- Excellent keyboard (I plan on programming on it, sometimes using emacs, with the caps lock as a control key). I don't expect to get a full keyboard with a 14" or a 15" screen and don't want to carry around an external one.
- Seamless or near seamless GNU/Linux experience (does ATI support still suck? What about switchable graphics?)
- Plays modern games well (but dual-boxing Crysis 2 @ max settings isn't my thing, but SC2 is)
- As light as possible; I plan on bringing it with me to the library or going outside with it. Are the "oversized" batteries worthwhile, or are they more annoying than their worth?
- Speaker quality is not that important to me. I'll have headphones and I'm not an audiophile, but it would be nice to show a friend some awesome new song out at the park or something.
I'd like to keep it under $2,000, but I can go pretty far over if necessary. (I got a really nice scholarship and this is what I'm splurging on). I'm not against Macs, but I'm not exactly a fan of Apple. If they make the best, then I might pick it (assuming price is not simply absurd). It would be awesome not to pay the Windows tax, as I already have a copy of Windows 7 when I need to run Windows.
I don't need to get the laptop until mid-August. If there is going to be a big hardware refresh / big sales promotions on high-end systems during the summer, I'll wait and buy it then.
I'm pretty technically competent, so I don't need to buy extra ram from the laptop vendor, as I can easily install it myself (same with things like the hdd). Anything else I can do myself that will cut costs? I could overclock, but I question how effective that is with laptops. Also, that's not something I really want to do.
I have a large external HDD (2tb -- gotta love Costco), so getting a SSD could be an option. I don't use very much storage (I have way under 400 gigs of data, which is everything, from the past 7 years).
Thanks for the assistance!