I did what I said I was going to do and bought the cheapest laptop at Costco. It was $900, and I could have gotten one $300 cheaper at Best Buy, but without the sweet return policy that will allow me to get a new one when this one dies :-)
The one I got is a Compaq. I have mixed feelings about this, as we once had a Compaq desktop machine that didn't live very long and had a number of problems along the way. On the other hand, Compaq is merely a subsidiary of HP these days. We love HP. Our current desktop is an HP and has been going strong for a number of years, not to mention that I don't even bother with non-HP printers. In any case, I think this laptop will do me just fine for the next few years. Getting all my crap off the old one and on to the new one hasn't been as much of a pain as I would have thought either. There are only a few items left to transfer at this point.