Thrifty laptop shoppers can easily put together a decent system for around $800 or so (or even dip down to $500 if they're brave), but these low-cost machines have always had major trade-offs in terms of components and performance.
We can't speak to the performance aspect just yet, but Systemax has hit the $999 sweet spot with a just-announced Vista Ultimate version of its Core 2 Duo 15.4-inch Pursuit 4155 laptop. It's also got 1GB of memory, a 60GB hard drive, and a built-in Webcam.
The Core 2 Duo T5200 processor is admittedly on the low end of the Core 2 Duo scale, but that and the copy of Vista Ultimate ($400 on its own) are the big selling points--the integrated graphics, not so much. We've previously seen a version of this system with Windows XP, and described it as part of, "a new wave of budget laptops stocked with current components and downright desirable features," so if you're looking for Vista Ultimate without spending big bucks, this seems like a nice upgrade.
Note: When we went to the Systemax Web site to check this deal out, we were disappointed to see that only a slower Core Duo T2250 processor was offered in the $999 package--trading up the Core 2 Duo was an extra $90. It seems there was some kind of miscommunication between the guys who build the laptops and the guys who write the press releases. We pressed them on it and have been promised that starting "tomorrow at the latest," the Core 2 Duo T5200 will be offered as a free upgrade to the $999 config. Who looks out for you? Your buddies at Crave, that's who.