Get a refurbished HP 15.6-inch laptop for $299.97
Don't let the "refurbished" part scare you: the nicely equipped G62-347NR comes with a full one-year warranty, same as new models.
Many thanks to everyone who commented and wrote in regarding. The response was tremendous, and for the most part quite civil--surprising given the holy-war history of the question. (They're just computers, people!)
The hard truth is that I write about Windows (and Windows-related products) for a living, so I can't fully abandon the platform. But as soon as my budget allows, I'm going to bring a Mac into the house and see what all the fuss is about. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, it's hard to pass up a deal like this one: Radio Shack has a refurbished HP G62-347NR 15.6-inch laptop for $299.97 shipped (plus sales tax in most states). In fact, you get two-day Fedex shipping, a nice added perk (be sure to choose that option at checkout).
I know, I know: an HP?! After bemoaning the sudden loss of two HP desktops on Friday? Yeah, I'm crazy, it's true, but this is a laptop. Plus, it comes with a full one-year warranty, same as new units. And, so help me, I'm a sucker for too-good-to-be-true deals.
The G62 features a 2.2GHz AMD dual-core processor, 3GB of RAM, a 320GB hard drive, and Radeon HD 4250 graphics. The screen resolution is a bit on the low side at 1,366 x 768 pixels, but it's certainly sufficient for a screen of this size.
Everything else is about what you'd expect, including a LightScribe DVD burner and Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Travel weight: 5 pounds.
For a student headed off to college in the fall or anyone who needs a decently powered PC on the cheap, this is, like I said, hard to pass up. The one-year warranty makes it especially attractive.
Bonus deal: Game time! For a limited time, Amazon has Ubisoft's Far Cry 2: Fortune's Edition (download) for $5. That's a lot of fun run-and-gunning for a