1) Well, there is the question of what use does one have for the laptop, e.g. gaming, home office environment, media center, etc.? Also, how portable and big does one want the laptop to be as sizes can range from 12" to 20" screens with varying weight and battery life.
2) The must haves vary considerably as different people will focus on different elements. Some want portability and battery life while others will use the laptop as a desktop replacement and so portability and battery life don't matter in this case.
3) The most reliable is subject to change as well as a lack of data if you think about how new models keep coming out since for example last year at this time there weren't Core 2 Duo laptops like there are now and in a year there may well be laptops with new video cards that aren't out now.
4) Depends on how one values which bang as well as what they use it for. Gamers may want a better video card compared to the person that will just do some web surfing and basic office stuff like word processing and spreadsheets.
5) Best depends on what you value. Some may think the look should count more than the ability to play games and others may have a very different set of priorities.
6) Do you want a Direct X10 Card in the laptop? If so then you may wait a bit for these to come out.
7) Brands vary a lot though there is the PC Magazine Reader Survey that may be useful for one idea.
http://www.notebookreview.com is a great site for looking at laptop reviews as well as here on CNet.
I want to purchase my first laptop computer in the next month or two. Before I do I want to do my due diligence so I make a good decision.
What are the most important aspects to look for in a laptop computer?
What are must haves and what is not that important?
What are the most reliable ones available?
What are the best bang for your buck?
What are the best (price does not matter) ones?
Is there some coming out that I should put my purchase on hold?
What brands are better than others?
What are some good sites for information?
Price will be factored in, however I will pay more for reliability and ability to stay useful longer (i.e. not being outdated with 6 months)
Thank you all in advance.