7enderbender - I totally sympathize and I agree. It's a challenge to choose a good system now. I think Apple has really taken the laptop display up a big step with Retina. That is a game changer. However, I hate glossy displays. So as good as it is, Retina is out for me. I can't stand the glare and reflection of a gloss display. 95% of high end professional desktop displays running into the thousands are matte finish for good reason.
Keep in mind that once you remove OSX and the aluminum case, all the internal hardware, chipsets, RAM, drives, etc are identical to a Windows PC. All the extra money is going to Apple, not to the technology. The Retina display on laptops is the only standout right now. And it deserves praise.
However, the problem is that people compare Apple products to the cheap retail crap at Best Buy, not to the better enterprise level systems that all the major vendors make for business. Lenovo, Toshiba, DELL. HP, Sony, Fujitsu, Panasonic, etc all have much better offerings in both PC and Laptop devices if you look at their website and venture into the other product lines. Those lines are more expensive and I typically suggest folks look into the refurb items that have come off of lease (2+ years old) if they want a real steal of a bargain on those units. For instance, there are a lot of nice refurb T series Lenovo units out now, some now with iSeries CPUs (like a T410) for less than $500-$700 and then you could simply upgrade the RAM and throw in an SSD for a screaming ThinkPad that's built like a tank and has a great display. Here's an example (not necc what you need)... http://tinyurl.com/b8sve4b
Well, yes and no. It depends on what you want to d. That Lenovo in the link I'd consider a downgrade from my ancient IBM version. The new screens just don't cut it.
That link was only for an example of price. I don't think it's a valid replacement for your needs. And Lenovo offers several display options so on the refurbs, you have to check closely. Some corps buy the better displays for their road warriors and others don't.