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alot of times i get asked to help out customers select a great laptop to buy.
it seems everyone wants the best bang for the buck. the problem is when buying computers you usually get what you pay for. SO i dont recommend getting the cheapest thing you find!
alot of people want a deal and by that they want something dirt cheap. they're logic is that these computers are throw away items....when it breaks down you throw it away and then buy a new one.
my usual suggestion is to know which brands to stay away with:
1. HP
2. Compaq

most of these laptops are all made in the same factory.OEM CHinese manufacturers use the same parts on many different laptops and then they stamp on a different labels for different brands such as HP. So you may be thinking well if the same parts that are in this HP are in the same laptops that acer makes why dont i just buy an HP when i can get it cheap? For me its all about 2 things: experience manufacturing laptop motherboards and brand loyalty.
one company that has lots of years of experience in making good quality motherboards is Asus. they are very good at making a good Mother Board. at the heart of your laptop this is the most important thing inside your laptop. it is the engine in the car. Not only has Asus been making great motherboards for a very long time but they also really care about brand loyalty. what is brand loyalty? brand loyalty is making a product that consumers will love because the products or services are so clever,reliable,amazing that people love them and have preference for their products or services. Soon good companies understand their customers and realize that they want to have a long term relationship with their new and future customers. consequently they strive to keep their current and future customers happy by providing an excellent reliable product or service. Companies such as HP do not care about brand loyalty or creating a lasting reputable legacy. Hp's Customer service sucks, their products are ok to horrible, and they simply do not understand how to make a great laptop! and i have read that they are thinking of getting out of the pc business. as of 2012 they still are making laptops but i dont know why.

here are my favorite laptop brands
1. Asus
2. Toshiba
3. Sony Vaio

i say buy one of the top 3 brands and then figure out how much ram and what kind of processor you can afford.
for example if you dont have that much money to spend i would get an asus with an I3 processor.
When i can i try to get my customers to buy something that has at least an i5 or i7 processor. and the reason i try to recommend that is because of resale-ability. in the future, laptops with i3 processors will flood ebay. these prices will be low. the i5 and i7 will have higher resale value in the future. technology moves so fast and before you know it your laptop is outdated.
in general if you are editing with adobe products such as Photoshop or adobe premiere you will want something that has an I7 in will definitely see the difference when you start using programs that were designed to utilize all the cores in your CPU. If you are editing music or video definitely get as much ram as you can!
if you are just putzing around the internet and checking your email a laptop with an i5 will be a great purchase.