Answer Best answer as chosen by user The ancient one
My laptop advice
Top 3 laptop manufacturers: Apple, Lenovo and HP.
Apples are excessively pricey and you are stuck with MacOS, Apple proprietary peripherals, etc.
Lenovo and HP's, specifically the business models are the best in the industry in my experience. Their business models are as solid as a rock and their customer support/service are US based with next business day service. I must stress, the business models. HP's consumer line laptops are not reliable in my experience and their support is not US based.
Acer and Gateways are at the bottom of the heap. I would not, will not spend money on them and would only consider one if it was free and if it wasn't being used for anything mission critical. Other good bets are Fujitsu, Toshiba, Samsung and Asus. A lot of people like Dells but my experience is otherwise. I used to work for a company which provided laptops to auto insurance claim reps who were constantly in the field and working in places like body shops. Dells had a much higher failure rate than other brands with IBM Thinkpads being the best workhorses around. Sony hardware is pretty good, usually, but Sony is notorious for loading a lot of crap ware on their machines and they have a history of surreptitiously gathering information on their customers without the customers knowledge or permission - privacy invasion. They are also on the pricey side.
If you move the machine around a fair amount rather than having it sit on a desk most of the time, I urge getting a business class machine. I have a 4 year old HP Elitebook which still runs as good as the day I bought it - better actually, as I have installed an SSD. It has a polished aluminum case. There are a number of dents and dings which would have been a broken screen on a normal consumer model. I don't abuse my machines, but I take them everywhere and things happen. The business class machines will cost you $100-$200 more for a comparable machine, but to my experience the durability, next business day service, and US/native English speaking support is worth every penny over the life of a machine. I also buy the 3year Accidental Damage Protection & Warranty from the machine manufacture (absolutely not a store sold warranty) on laptops. The cost of one repair pays for the warranty for the life of the machine and again, it is fixed the next business day. When you have the warranty from the machine manufacturer, they have a vested interest in repairing it as quickly as possible and getting it right the first time, where as the store sold warranty is a profit making venture for the store and their goal is to do as little as possible and not do things like overnight shipment of parts and whose techs are frequently undertrained / under-experienced.
The other thing to consider with a laptop is an anti-theft program like Absoulte Software's Computrace. A lot of mobile computing devices are being stolen and sold on eBay or Craigslist.
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