questionsoh sage & frugal wooters.... which laptop is for…

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I can save on the audio... I don't need JBL speakers or a Beats audio system as I mostly use headphones. I am more concerned with the visual. I need an optical drive, but it doesn't have to be blueray. I would like an HDMI so I can put movies on a TV. Eventually I want to get a monitor that I can properly calibrate for Photoshop, so while I do want good visual, it doesn't have to be the best. I use external storage, but I need a fast disk that can hold a few camera dumps, a few movies and have enough space left over for a nice sized scratch disk for Photoshop. While a nice sized SSD would be ideal, they seem overly costly to me. I don't need a numberpad. To sum up:

Good processor (Intel i5 or i7? do I need i7?)
Good amount of memory (6G?) with room to expand
Medium sized, fast-ish storage
Mid-sized screen (not too big)
dedicated graphics would be nice, but lower on totem pole.
unconcerned with audio

I am overwhelmed after many hours at this.

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I recently picked up an HP Envy 14 refurb from ecost.com for about $600 (reg street price $850-1000) and am pretty happy with it. Based on reviews, ecost can be hit or miss, so YMMV, but I've bought at least 5 new computers from them since '06 with fast shipping and zero problems.

Pro: 2nd Gen i5 processor, USB 3.0, Radeon grax, strong aluminum shell and comfortable backlit keyboard, and the 4GB RAM comes loaded on one of the two slots, so you can expand to 8GB for $20-25 aftermarket.

Con: No full-1080p display, no blu-ray.

Here's the ecost link (their prices tend to fluctuate, it's $635 today):
http://www.ecost.com/p/6960231?CAWELAID=1098582650

If you'd rather buy new, Newegg's got it with free shipping for $750:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16834157869&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Notebooks-_-Hewlett-Packard-_-34157869

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@absinthegreen: I'm also an ex-computer nerd who's out of the market. It took me a few days to settle on the Envy. Others on the list included Dell's 14Z series, Alienware M11, Thinkpad 420s and a few others.

My must-haves:
14" class monitor (one of the two really non-replaceable things)
Excellent keyboard with backlight (ditto)
USB 3.0
HDMI and/or DisplayPort
N-series wireless with newest-generation WiDi
Aluminum shell

Must-haves that I crossed off the list:
6GB+ RAM (aftermarket RAM is ridiculously cheap nowadays)
i7 (if you're upgrading from Centrino series, you'll never notice the jump from i3-2xxx or i5-2xxx)
Blu-Ray (external drives are like $60-80)

If you can live with a 15.6" display, you've got far more options at lower prices. But those things just get too big for me. I was upgrading from an HP dv1000 series, and the Envy 14 happened to be just about the same size, so I can live with it.

(Also: Beat audio is FOR external speakers/cans, FYI)

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Thanks:-) I bounced back & forth between a dell xps & the envy. I am optig for the envy.