Well couple weeks ago my laptop got messed up and it's time for me to get a new one. My old one was an HP that cost about $600 and it was reliable for me.
Now I'm looking to get a new laptop though, one thing I'd like is for it to be able to get me through a 3 hour lab on battery power, and be between $500-800. Brand name doesn't really matter, but I'd prefer to buy in store so I'm limited to best buy or future shop basically as they're the only "tech" stores in my area.
Here's a few I've found, but I don't know about the specs or even what's considered good.
Besides my stats and bio labs, basically just going to be writing documents and speadsheets and browsing PSD. I have a ton of music, so I think I'll probably need something with a relatively large HD to hold it all. My old laptop have 4 GB DDR3 ram and 500 GB HD or something like that.
Processing speed etc. kills batteries. If all you're really doing is school work and PSD, as long as you don't have 20+ web pages and pdf files up, you won't need an incredibly fast processor. Choose one that has a relatively small screen, because it will be so much more portable than one that's say..16 inches.
I have a 10 inch netbook for school and a 17 inch laptop for gaming/movies/heavy work applications. The netbook lasts 5+ hours using the battery..and the larger laptop lasts like an hour tops, primarily because the processing power and screen quality.
You just have to find the median within your price range.
I'll add that you should decide whether you are looking for something short term or long term.
I bought a laptop ~5 years ago for $1000. At the time, it was a great performer and filled all my needs while in college. But over time, new applications come out and use up more processing and memory and just before it died, my laptop felt very average and could not handle more difficult processing.
Now that I'm out of school, I have less need for portability but still wanted a laptop. I ended up going with a Lenovo (same brand as my previous laptop) Ideapad.
$600 (before tax, free shipping)
i5 m480 @ 2.67ghz
15.6" LED HD screen
This is more power than I really need right now, but it's nice to know that the laptop is likely to have a hardware failure before it will under perform. At $600 I couldn't find a laptop with equal specs despite spending the better part of three weeks researching. Only thing is the battery won't last very long but you can always buy either an extra battery or the long lasting battery.
Also, I know you said you wanted to buy in store but when I bought from Lenovo it was shipped to my house in three days.