NOVA is a good place to shop. You might save a few dollars if you spend hours looking elsewhere, but it’s probably not worth the hassle. Sometimes one hears of good deals coming out of trade shows, but it’s hit or miss.
You’ll certainly want to go with one of the bigger brands and avoid the tempting cheapies with apparently great specs but questionable workmanship. The only major brand I’d advise against is Sony. I’ve heard too many horror stories from people who bought the things. IBM is an excellent choice and very competitive price-wise. My IBM notebook is 3 years old and still going strong. Plus, IBM’s local support is excellent, in my experience, including top notch over-the-phone support.
One very important consideration is most noebooks are pre-loaded with Chinese systems. So, make sure to tell the vendor you want them to install an English system instead. They can often do this, but there’s a problem. In the case of IBMs, the Chinese OS is on a separate (hidden) partition on the hard drive, serving as the recovery OS. So, if your system goes kaput, you’re going to have to manually reinstall an English OS, rather than using the built-in recovery OS (unless you want it to be Chinese). I’ve asked IBM vendors if they could swap the Chinese recovery set-up with English, and they can’t (or won’t). But who knows - it might be possible to get someone to do it.
One very very important consideration about IBMs and other notebooks - make sure it has a dedicated video chip/video ram. The cheaper notebooks won’t, which means the video duty is taken up by the CPU. This can have a dramatic slowdown on performance, particularly if you do any serious video, gaming, or graphics work.
I’d also advise against systems with Intel Celeron chips. The small price savings just isn’t worth it considering the poor performance compared with standard PIII, PIV or M chips.
The only other thing I don’t like about buying here is the bopomofu set up on the keyboards. But that’s a small issue.