I went with an HP Pavilion dv6z laptop. It has all the features I wanted, plus some, and did not cost a lot more than I wanted to spend. The only thing I did not like was the weird size of the 12-cell battery. It will be interesting to see how it works. See the photo below.
See how the battery sticks out and is not flush with the bottom of the laptop? That's odd. But maybe it will help improve airflow and keep the CPU cooler.