Here we go:
1) STEER CLEAR from netbooks, as given your tasks, it will cause the netbook to be sluggish, thus, laptop only
2) Processor: once you have steer away from netbooks, most will serve your needs
3) Memory/RAM: WinXP - 1GB or 2GB will run ably and they have a max limit of recognising of 3.5gb
Win Vista - 3GB/4GB will be good
Although Win7 is capable of running with 1GB of it, if you have gotten 4GB, it's good
4) Harddisk/Storage - Nothing less than 160GB storage, make sure its of SATA type and NOT PATA (as it's almost phrased out)
5) Optical drive / ODD - DVD+-RW at least. Slot or tray depends on liking or if you have small-sized disc lying around
6) Screen size - Given your budget, you'll find 14" more likely to fit in, but any have a weight trade-off
7) Graphics - As a non-gamer of games like COD4, you can get by with shared memory, else, a dedicated card.
As one of the moderators will respond as well with the link which can help recommend laptop/s, here it is:
Hope it helps.
I'm really do not have much knowledge when it comes to laptops. I'm looking to purchase one and mainly use it for internet, music, movies and photos with your occassional documents. Ultimately I'd like to keep my budget to $1000 or under. What would you recommend? There are so many manufacturers and I do not understand the lingo. Thank you so much for any recommendations or advice!