I would just get a new laptop. Newer the better -- hardware wise.
You could get a Netbook (which cost along the $200-400 range).
I have a Compaq laptop that is about 2 years old. The screen started getting shaky and blacking out a few months ago, so I took it to a guy who fixed the shaky problem, but the screen is now so dim you can barely see anything. He said it probably needs to have the video card replaced ,which in this case, would require the whole motherboard being replaced. He said it would cost about $200 - 300 dollars (not sure if that includes labor).
Do you think I just buy a new laptop? What would you do?