I bought a Toshiba Satellite laptop this week for my daughter. This $400 basic model laptop comes with 4G of RAM, a 320G hard drive, a dual-core Intel Pentium processor, and Windows 7. This Toshiba Satellite has a very quick start-up, and the set-up was easy; I just had to turn it on, answer a few questions for Windows, and the operating system installed itself. The battery lasts for about 4 hours, although I haven't tested that out.
The 15.6" display screen has a bright, sharp picture, especially when I compare the Toshiba side by side to my HP. The keyboard has flat, square keys rather than beveled edges, which I didn't care for as much, but the letters are big and easy to read. The touchpad has its own quirks, magnifying or demagnifying a webpage depending on which direction the pointer is going. That touchpad magnification feature is already driving my daughter a little buggy, so she's already considering adding an external mouse. One of the Toshiba specific software accessory programs that I really did like was the "Mathematics calculator" that would let me handwrite the math formula, and the software program would automatically read and convert the greek letters for me into a typewritten format that I could copy and paste into a word editor. I wish I had something like that back when I was in college.
The Toshiba Satellite C655 doesn't come with a webcam or LightScribe. And as far as I could tell, the Toshiba Satellite doesn't have a separate hard drive partition that stores a copy of the Windows 7 operating system, so it is very important to make the Windows 7 recovery disks as your first priority. But for $400, the Toshiba Satellite is a very budget-friendly yet powerful workhorse for general use, and I just couldn't find a better bargain for a laptop.