I got myself a laptop from Best Buy early this September for only $650. It's an HP Pavillion dv9000-series Notebook, and it uses Vista Home Premium, which isn't as bad as I thought it would be. I was not only needing a laptop for college, but also needed the right specs for digital video editing, especially since I work for my college's TV studio (we use Pinnacle Liquid software for editing on PCs and Final Cut Pro on the Macs). OK, here are the specifications...
AMD Turion64 X2 processor: 1.80 GHz
958 MB of RAM (plan on upgrading to 2 GB of RAM soon)
140 GB Hard Drive (plan on getting a FireWire or USB 2.0 external drive)
Windows Vista Home Premium 32-Bit (don't plan on going to Ultimate)
Four USB 2.0 ports
One IEEE-1394 4-pin port (I got a 4-pin to 4-pin cable for this)
17-inch widescreen display
NVIDIA GeForce Go 6150 graphic card with 287 MB shared video ram (I don't plan on doing any HDV editing for a few years from now)
LightScribe dual-layer DVD-/+R(W)-authoring drive
The video editing software I have is Pinnacle Studio Plus 10.8, Adobe Premiere Elements 3.0.2, Roxio VideoWave SE (part of MyDVD Basic) and Ulead Videostudio Plus 11; plan on getting Sony Vegas Movie Studio+DVD Platinum as well. The DVD-authoring tools I have include Roxio MyDVD Basic, Nero 8 and Ulead DVD MovieFactory Plus 6.