General discussion

How to shop for a new notebook?

If I want to shop for a new car, or a used one, I can get a ton of direct comparison information easily and quickly. But this is not proving to be the case with notebooks. Where can I go to easily find answers to the following questions?

1) Which are the largest note/laptop sellers? From poking around e-Bay and this forum, it seems to be Dell, IBM, Sony, and several smaller players like Acer, Toshiba, Fujitsu, and, and. . .
But I might be misinterpreting what I read.
Who are the top six or eight sellers?

2) Which ones have the best reputation for quality? (I've been reading some scary things about Toshiba Satellites on this forum, causing me to change my mind about considering a Satellite. What does anybody know about Acer TravelMates?)

3) Which ones have the best reputation for customer service (which I hope never to use, because I think that ALL computer tech support is a nightmare today, but I've been reading some good remarks about Fujitsu. Is there a general list/ranking anywhere, the way Consumer Reports does for car reliability?

Most specific question:
If I want a basic notebook just to do word processing away from a wall outlet for as many hours as possible on a single battery charge (at least five), and I'll settle for average performance but not cheap junk, and I want to spend less than $1500 (the farther from $1500, the better), and I want it to have a high probability of still working properly four years from now, what are the the manufacturers I should consider?


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