Harddrive, try gettin a 5400RMP or faster one, most have 4200rmps (which are slower than the average desktop harddrive)
Even 5400 RPM is slower than average desktop hard drive (de facto standard has been 7200 for a long time now).
And besides, the faster a hard drive spins, the more battery life it sucks up. Getting a laptop with more RAM will prevent it from needing to page stuff from RAM to hard drive and back again. You want to access the hard drive as less as possible.
You want to buy a laptop for a woman? The two most important features are low weight and long battery life. Small size is also important. The Toshiba Portege R100 is the ideal laptop. However, is she willing to shell that much money.
BTW, if you want to compromise anything, absolutely do not compromise weight because if it weighs too much, your friend will never carry it around and the laptop will be useless. I know because I have many friends that don't carry their laptops because they did not care for weight and now they find it too heavy. :lol
Also, on a laptop, performance of the system is not important: all your friend will do is surf the net (90% of the time) so get WiFi card and do homework on it the rest of the time. Maybe play solitaire or some other low graphics game.
I have a Dell Latitude and love it. It's not too light but I have a shoulder bag, so no problem. The Dell Inspiron is smaller, cheaper but very adequate. I've bought 8 over the past 3 years for the office and 2 for my family without any problems. The second most important thing next to RAM for a laptop is WARRANTY, IMHO. Only the brave will try to repair a laptop themselves.
CD burners are great for backup of important pix, documents, etc., as well as for music.
anyone have advice as a friend of mine is looking for a lap top
what are the best lap tops
any price range as she may fianance
Battery is a key thing for a laptop. I used to work for Gateway Tech Support in Colorado Springs so I am biased that way. These days, there is less difference between models. A cool thing is adding a Firewire capable port. If she does any photo editing work she will thank you to no end. I would not get anything with less than 1024 RAM unless I had to. Also, Office Suite (Word, Excel) are really a must these days.