HP has a great site for customizing their laptop computers. I say this as a user, but also from a marketing perspective. I find myself more drawn to play with the options since the site makes things easy for me. They lay out their models on one page where I can quickly compare major features and open a new tab to browse the models I'm interested in. From that next tab I can easily customize the computer. The site continuosly calculates the total price and keeps that in the window no matter where I scroll. For each optional feature, the choices have the cost of the upgrade shown. Each time I choose an option for a feature, the other choices have their prices updated immediately.
This means that when I read the list of hard drives, drive X says it's an additional $20, drive Y is an additional $40 and drive Z is an additional $60. Once I choose drive Y, I can see that drive Z is now only $20 more. The immediate update of that price has a strong effect on the buyer (that'd be me). The price difference just went down and can now be rationalized - only $20 for drive Z now when it was a huge $60 before. Keeping the total on screen is a fair way to implement this feature, in my mind, because I can still check if I'm in my price range. Even though I can push the price up, I won't do so indefinitely.
So as you can tell, I'm back shopping for a Compaq Presario notebook. I can put together an R3000Z with an Athlon XP-M 3000+, a 15.4" WSXGA+ (1680x1050) screen, 64MB GeForce 440, 512MB RAM, 80 GB 5400 RPM hard drive, 802.11g, the memory card reader, IEEE 1394, and bluetooth for well under $1300USD. The thing weighs about 8 pounds or maybe more (I upgraded the battery, too) and has no CD-R/W (I kept just a DVD-ROM). For another $50 I could get an Athlon 64. See that marketing at work? I think this could be the notebook for me. I should just buy it so my blog will stop looking like a computer catalog.
Looking at the HP zv5000z, it seems to be the same computer for about $50 more in a different shell. Maybe it's just market segmentation or maybe the Compaq brand name will disappear in a couple years, who knows.
I was also considering the Presario V2000 and Presario R3000T, but the V2000 doesn't have an ATI or Nvidia graphics chip that I can get in the R3000Z and the R3000T uses a Pentium 4 instead of a Pentium M CPU. I think that means higher power consumption, but I'm not positive. As far as I understand power consumption is proportional to clock speed and operating voltage. The Athlon CPUs have traditionally had better performance than Intel at a given clock speed. The R3000Z has a Mobile Athlon, so it wins for power consumption in my model.