I do find it odd that when the question is "Recommend me a laptop that isn't a Mac", the initial responses are "buy a Mac or a desktop" ...
Buy a PowerBook, get Parallels 6.0 for free with the purchase, install Windoze 7 on it.
Anyways, being a MacBook Pro and a Sony Z owner. Give the Mac to the kids and get a real machine.
OP, you want a Sony Z. It comes with an i5 or an i7 CPU. Upto quad RAID SSDs for 600MB/sec disk access, yes it supports 4 drives builtin. It even has a 1920x1080p screen. This all comes in a 13" 3lb package. You can even get a builtin blu-ray burner. It's the perfect, portable photo processing monster machine that you can take anywhere.
If photo editing is what you have in mind...
As for the comment "Buying a computer is not unlike the purchase of an automobile. If you haven't made a determination of what your "spend" limit is when buying a car, you wouldn't know wether to start at the Mercedes dealership, or the Chevy dealership. "
I find sales people who make those type of comments totally absurd. The first and foremost thing you should always determine is "what you need". Then the second thing you determine is "what is the cheapest thing that suffices your needs". You don't walk into a car dealer saying I can spend $100,000 with out first determining that all you do is drive to the local grocery store to buy milk. You'll end up spending more than you need to and buying the wrong thing - but making the sales person really happy which is why they always ask that stupid question "how much money can I extract from you... errrr I mean, how much money do you want to spend".
You should *never* shop based on how much money you have or want to spend, you should always shop based on what you need.