See, it would be handy to have a small laptop that lives upstairs so that I could quickly check e-mail and Internet from the bedroom while we're trying to get Julie to go to sleep. daisy_knotwise and I had discussed the subject previously and agreed that it made some sense. I called her up, gave her the info, and she agreed that it still made sense.
A couple of attempts by the salesman to upgrade me to a newer model were fended off ("Nope. E-mail, web surfing, and light word processing") and I took home the laptop, a case, and a three-year extended warranty for less than $600.
The actual laptop is a Toshiba Satellite L305D-S5890. I brought it home, tried to connect to our wireless access point and failed miserably.
After numerous attempts (during which I upgraded the security on the network and proved that it worked from the IBM laptop for work and the older HP laptop), I started to believe that I might have a radio problem on the laptop. Then I hit Google on the desktop.
I hooked the laptop up to a network wire and downloaded 41 upgrades to Vista and the machine's internal drivers. After rebooting, I connected to the wireless network with no problem.
I'm now getting software installed and configured, neutering Vista, and removing crapware.
So far, so good.