Honestly: Shop around at bestbuy and find a model you like. If you are smart, you'll find something with a midsized screen, no bells and whistles, lots of ram, decent processor and harddrive, that is in the $1,000 range. At that price point, you either have pretty good laptops with no extra features, or shittily made 17 inch dells and compaqs with tons of features. Once you've found what you want, shop around online to find it for the cheapest price.
Unrelated note: Dont fall for the antivirus packages that might come with your new copy of windows 7. Just get Avast and spybot and call it good. If you have system restore running on the regular, most virus issues can be solved by running in safe mode and engaging system restore.
I got this beast http://support.gateway.com/s/Mobile/Q106/Bishop/1009050mv.shtml
in early 2006 (dual core was pretty new back then), and have had no problems at all with it over the past 4 years. Clearly I will uprgrade for LS, but I have definitely found that this computer was worth the investment.