Sounds like almost any laptop would do.
I'll decline to name names, but I work in the hub for a national retail chain, where we try to fix all the units sold by the chain.
Sony systems strike me as ridiculously overpriced, and the person we have to work on Sony stuff never seems to be wanting for something to do.
Acer (which includes Gateway and eMachines) has a fun habit of not stocking a lot of warranty parts, so getting repairs on those systems can be tricky. Plus, IMO, the hardware quality is crap.
HP (which includes Compaq) is not quite as bad as Acer, but not for a lack of trying.
Toshiba is kind of the goldilocks company. The low end systems suffer from a general case of disinterest, and their high end systems suffer from ambition overriding good sense. Their mid-range systems aren't AS bad.
Dell systems I've worked on extensively in the past. They're similar to Toshiba. Low end is crap, their higher end stuff isn't AS bad as Toshiba, but their mid-range stuff is generally pretty good.
Samsung just entered into the laptop market, and legend has it they poached a huge chunk of Sony's laptop division to get things up and running. Too early to say whether those systems will be crap or good.
Fujitsu, I know next to nothing about, and I think I'm like most people in that my first reaction was, "Fujitsu makes laptops?" I don't see many of them come through, but that could just as easily be because few people buy them as it is that they're good quality.
Apple (full disclosure: I was hired to fix Apple the systems at this chain) systems tend to be of excellent quality, but there's limited selection. There are also a few tradeoffs to running a non-Windows system. They are also a little expensive for what you appear to get feature wise, but most of that is due to Apple having very stringent quality standards. Their repair process is also one of the least painful around. PITA for people like me, who have to deal with Apple's "fussy" nature, but great for people like you.
If, and that's a big if, you think you can deal with the particulars of a Mac vs a PC, I'd say go for the Apple system. It's your best bet of a system that will last you at least a couple of years. Otherwise, I'd probably tip my hat to Dell. Quality is respectable, and at least as of about a year ago when I really stopped working on them regularly, they bundled the least about of crap with the system. They also gave you an OS restore disc that is barely modified from the original Windows install DVD. None of this recovery media garbage where it installs all the extra garbage programs on your system, you get a nice clean install of the OS and the OS alone.
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