Paul - I've owned several different brands of desktop and laptop computers. My favorite in the past has been the Dell line of computers. When my Dell laptop died an ugly death about three years ago around Christmas time, I replaced it with a Dell P4 desktop model with a 17" flat panel monitor. I also own a Sony Vaio P4 desktop that my wife uses in our R/E business (we just added a new 19" wide screen monitor to it this Christmas).
Rather than spend a ton of money to replace my Dell laptop, I opted to shop for the best price with the monitor being the most important feature since I use it primarily for listing and buyer presentations. We ended up purchasing a Toshiba laptop with a 15.4" bright screen and have been very pleased with it. Battery life could be a little longer; however, we seldom are not near an electrical outlet. I also have a compact portable HP inkjet printer that has a battery to provide a truly mobile office. A year or so ago, I added a wireless network in our home office. All 3 computers are now linked to our color laserjet printer.
I've seen a number of your posts and you're a pretty smart guy. I would recommend that you carefully consider the primary use or purpose for any computer device you select. For me and my business, it was a mistake to use my laptop for everything. I use to own a docking station with my Dell laptop complete with separate mouse, keyboard, monitor, etc.; however I do not miss it one bit. With the wireless network in the home office, we can share files between computers with ease. P.S. We're running Windows XP Professional on all of our computers. Best wishes - Ted