Compaq Presario v2000 line.
HP Pavilion dv1000t line.
HP Pavilion dv2000t line.
Dell Inspiron 6400 / E1505.
Dell Inspiron E1405.
As you will not play or run heavy 3D applications, the Intel GMA 950 should be a better value choice than a dedicated graphics controller.
I think you will appreciate the dual-core processor. It delivers on-the-go performances and it is very very fast. For a longer battery life, take an Intel chip.
My parents decided that they want to buy me a laptop for college. So it's up to me to pick one. I don't need anything fancy; I'll probably use it only for taking notes and writing essays. Any ideas on a pretty cheap notebook that is good and reliable (one that will outlast its warranty)?