I might be able to get a laptop for $500 up to $700. Not sure yet.

I thought I would get a better idea of what is out there just in case. If the best choice is something that is in the higher range ($700), it might be harder but I was wondering if it's worth it.

I think you probably can't get much in that range but I thought if there's something worth the $$, I would consider it.

Maybe the problem is that these are all consumer laptops and the brands will be limited. HP, Acer and just maybe Asus are the choices? Not very assuring or inspiring. I noticed some decent Asus laptops and a Sony Vaio is $700. There's also some older MSI models for about $550 and change but some include refurbished models.

Here is some of the hardware:
i5-2530M
13" or 14" screen (I think if I stay w/ a smaller screen, it will be a better match for the standard 1366 x 768 res that are part of most laptops in this price range - good idea?)
8mb DDR3 RAM
1 or 2 usb 3.0 ports
Intel HD 3000 graphics

laptop brands and models:
Acer TimeLine/AS3830T, HP Probook, Asus U31, P43/P53,

Any other options or ideas? Going down to i3 cpu or settling for 15.6" screen and the crappy res or going w/ Nvidia graphics allows for more alternatives?

Thanks for any suggestions and/or info!