Some laptops do better than others. No shootout article so far but it does matter what router is in use. I've seen a great connecting laptop falter and the other laptop win in distance when I change routers. But here's my secret bag. I carry in my laptop bad these items for the time I can't quite get there.

An USB Wifi dongle with the replaceable antenna. Examples:
http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=GWUE18SG
http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=5DBI-INDOOR-ANTENNA

Maybe you will watch and see if they start adding some distance testing to laptop reviews but frankly there are too many factors that would interfere with the results. Even changing the RF channel on the router could help or hurt.
Bob