You'll probably be getting Vista, so make sure it has a lot of memory. I have Vista on a laptop, and it was pitiful with it's out of box 1 GB. It became acceptable with 2GB. Since most laptops don't come maxed out, be sure to include the price of a memory upgrade. Even if it come with 1 GB, it will probably be configured with two memory slots, each holding 512 MB. To upgrade from 1 GB to 2 GB, you will likely have to buy two 1 GB memory mods, and all the original memory is going to waste away in a drawer. Thats an additional cost of anywhere from $140-$180 just to make the machine operational. If you come across two machines that are similar except for the memory, consider the price of the memory upgrade.
I like the HP (I know, close to Compaq) laptops because of the docking station. But, I prefer Toshiba for the durability. I don't know of a Toshiba with a tablet. Sony laptops are good for skeet shooting, but not much else. I don't know of anyone who's ever had a Dell laptop last much longer than a year. Also, Dell laptop have a propriety hard drive, and cannot be as readily upgraded.
Just about all laptops will have both wireless and at least a DVD player/CD burner. Many will have DVD burning capabilities as well.
As a personal preference, I hate the HD screen resolution. The vertical gets cut way down, and I spend a lot more time scrolling than what I like.