I used to have two computers - my Raytheon HP laptop and my personal Dell laptop. But, since I'm leaving Raytheon, I had to give up that laptop, and the warranty on the Dell just ran out. So, I decided it was time to go computer shopping.
The main thing I use my computer for is internet and working in word, excel, or powerpoint. I might do the occasional movie watching, video/picture editing, but probably not all that often, and I'm definitely not doing any high-powered engineering modeling anymore.
So, my main criteria for my new computer were that it is/has:
1) lightweight (I stopped bringing my Dell anywhere because it was just too heavy, and what's the point of having a laptop that's not mobile?),
2) long battery life (I go to conferences, meetings, etc. and don't always have access to an outlet - it's hard to take notes or work if the battery dies in 1-2 hours.),
3) decent size screen (I wanted something big enough to use everyday. I like the netbooks, but a 7 inch screen for 6-8 hours a day would be a bit difficult.)
3) inexpensive (I decided I'd rather spend less and get a new computer sooner rather than spend a lot and hope it lasts a long time - i.e. I'd rather get a $600 laptop every 2 years than a $1200 laptop that has to last 4 years)
And I think I did a great job finding the right thing (with Jeff and my brother's searching and deciding help). My Acer Timeline has a 13.3" widescreen, weighs 3.5 pounds, the battery lasts 8 hours, and it only cost $600 (plus a bit more for the accidental damage warranty I wanted). It has lots of other great features, too, like built in speakers, microphone, and webcam, fast internet (802.11 n), blue tooth, SD reader, and lots more. I've had it for about three days now, and so far I'm very happy.