Notebooks with 12.1" screens are mostly more expensive as they are sold for looks and airplane travel. If you use this all the time you will want to get an external keyboard and even possibly an external monitor.
Averatec is a fringe brand so the price you are paying reflects that.
Fujitsu has some nice 13.3" models but the only drawback there is they use integrated video memory not dedicated video memory (made in Japan --- see Fry's Electronics if on west coast or online).
Sony of course has 12.1" models but they are very pricey.
You are almost better off going to 14.1" (IBM, Toshiba Techra, HP nc6000 business, etc) as that is still lighter than the 15" consumer model LCD's but definitely a size better for all around use. But these will likely not fall into the price range you want either.
Toshiba does have 10% off all custom order notebooks on its website so try configuring the notebook of your choice there.
I am an incoming college freshman, looking for a 12 inch notebook, that isn't more that $1200. I need it to be able to do small CAD projects, that might come up in my first year or two. I've looked at the Averatec notebook, but have no clue on the company or the performance, any suggestions?