I know exactly what ou mean about finding the RIGHT labtop . I have been looking into labtops myself and haven't picked one yet, but with all of the research that I have done I will tell you what I know:
dell- one of my friends have a dell and to tell you the truth dell was good. But currently haven't had anything that's really amazing, they have been said to have gone downhill and havent been as good lately. My one friend has one and personally I wouldn't reccommend it, she complained about having it break down multiple times and having to get it fixed. It runs fairly good, dont get me wrong, but why get alabtop that's going to make you pay extra when your already willing to pay an arm and a leg for it?
Acer- Just like any labtop you get some good brand names you get some bad, Acer I have heard they are good but for the majority factor, I have heard they SUCK. I would say if you can avoid this brand name, do it.I have heard it breaking down and having it really slow. The battery life is apparently crap. I dont know if it's the new gatewy or compaq that's a branch off from acer but check a store dealer about it. (pretty much what im trying to say is, many people get rid of acers and go into stores trying to find a new brand. See one of the new ones -gateway or compaq- and think it will be better when it's just another brand of acer
lenovo- I know poeople who have bought lenovo ad have had the labtop for over 5 years. THis labtop I would recommend. I would say it's one of the top brand names of them all. I haven't heard anything bad about them yet which is nice. I would check into them more if you want to know more.
Toshiba- This is also a really good brand name. They have had really good labtops in the past and still do. The one thing that I have heard is that the screen hinges have a tendancy of breaking which happened to one of my family members. THe screen came fully off over time. Other then that the text is very clear, very fast. Everyone that I have talked to ( 4 people who have them) have said that the satelite brand is very good. Toshiba are quite pricy if you dont know what you are looking for and dont get any deals. I have found when looking around not many of the labtops that toshiba has have an HDMI slot. This is so then you can watch movies on your flat screen tv or show a slide show to your family, play video games on big screen, ect. They have a tendancy of charging an extra 100-200 for just this.
Asus- ( in my opinion) THe best quality brand you can buy. The ONLY problem that I have heard about the asus is that they sell out quickly because they only make a certain amount mneaning that they are very hard to find, and when people o find them, THEY SELL OUT FAST. They are quite costly but infact do the job and last long. THey are a brand that you can definately depend upon. My one friend is a hardcore gamer and personally customizes his own labtops and desktops. He said that if he were to buy a laptop with a brand name it would be asus.
Macs- Macs, are one of the top brands right now. Highly recommended. If you like the format that's great and if you use the applications such as photobucket ect then this would be good. It's more of an artsy labtop rather then a practical one. This labtop is known to get rarely any viruses which is awsome. Though if your like me and wont use half of the programs on the mac, dont like the set up of the desktop, or get fustrated having all of the minimized screens hidden, like myself, I do not recommend this labtop. Another huge thing. If you are a huge huge gamer like me, I DO NOT, repeat DO NOT recommend a mac. THey will not be able to hold high tech games such as crisis or final fantasy 14.
hp- is okay I have heard many good things and many bad things. I have an Hp pavillion. DO NOT get a pavillion, no matter if a dealer says they are good.The fan kept on breaking down. We had gotten it fixed more then three times and the labtop still overheats. We plan on making it our new heater for this upcoming winter as to how hot it gets. ( also reson why we are getting a new one) The motherbord fries after a year and a half. The fan breaks down quite easily. When we first got it it worked perfectly. If you can try not to get windows vista it always had these configurations going on, when you turn on the labtop and shut ot down ( thus meaning that it takes like 30 minutes just to turn on and strat working as well as shutting off.) Though I must say that the internet was fairly fast. I still dont recommend this brand after personal experience. Every person that I know that has had a pavillion the motherbord had fried. But people that have a different model have said that this brand is good. Personally I would stay away from HP as much as you can.
*Note: Also try to resist getting anti viruses because hun... they rape your pc. ( if you really wanted one for safety I recommend one; for people who read this and have six ... aka my father... you are WAISTING SPACE ON YOUR COMPUTER!!! more antiviruses doesn't make your labtop or computer any better then having one.) If your going to get something get google chrome, some poeple say it's no different then google, but personally I think it's faster :B If you know a computer genus get- linux. and also instead of having internet explorer get mozilla.
Other things that you want to look into depending on what you want. If you are just wanting pograms such as microsoft word, powerpoint and somthing to check email and stuff on, I would not recommend mac. If you are wanting to use things such as all of the applications on mac then mac will be great for you.
Samsung- i haven't heard much about them. I know they are fairly pricier then the other brand names. The good thing about Samsung is that many of the labtops have blueray built into it, whoot to high definition! Other then that I dont really know much about this particular brand.
Minor details for any labtop:
-at least a dual core processor
-4GB if possible; 3Gb will suffice
-at least 2.3ghz
- hard drive capcity at least 500GB
*IF your a gamer you want a higher processor cache and ask them about the graphics card ( not all labtops can play high definition movies), high video memory