I have a Dell Inspiron 1545 myself, and I can say that it is a great computer (I wouldn't touch Sony with a 10 foot pole). However, my Dell is fairly heavy and lugging it around all day can be tiring. I get about 4 1/2 to 5 hours on a single charge with a 6-cell battery (that's continuous use, but I can use it on and off all day long). Don't get one with less than a 6-cell. I'm going to get a used netbook to carry around all day for note taking, email checking, etc (I've done my homework on them and have found one I like)... and leave the Dell at my residence for the heavier computing after class. Much lighter and smaller is what I need for everyday carry. However, a netbook is not a substitute for a primary notebook. It is an add-on to what you already have.
It sounds like a Mac would be perfect for her, but they are expensive (definitely worth it, though!). They are tough, very user friendly, light, long battery life....I can't find anything wrong with a Mac.
She can get the full Microsoft Office package for $60 after she enrolls (you have to have a valid .edu email address).Microsoft's Ultimate Steal
It's legitimate. If I didn't already have Windows 7 and Office, I would buy them through that program.
But yeah, the specs ReviverSoft recommended are exactly what you should be looking for.
Brands I DON'T recommend: Toshiba, Compaq, Sony, Acer
Brands I DO recommend: Dell, HP (wouldn't be my first pick, though), Apple (the best if you have the money!), Asus, MSI
It's really just a matter of how much you're willing to pay. But being pointed to the right brands and specs can also help. If you can afford a 13" MacBook Pro, get that. If not, I would go for a medium-sized Dell or HP (still good quality, but cheaper). The new Dell Studio laptops are supposed to be a step up from the older Inspirons, but they aren't all that different. I haven't looked at HP much.
When does she enroll? Next fall? If so, you have plenty of time to get one. If it's the Spring (in a couple of weeks), I can see why you're so frazzled about this.
Edited by keyboardNinja, 28 December 2009 - 10:46 AM.