I have a fairly known and consistent use-case. My laptop does almost no computational work. I do a ton of heavy computational work, but it all happens on big multicore servers which I access/control via Jupyter, SSH, remote desktop etc.
Even doing word-processing will not normally be on my laptop. I have access to several desktops. Doing things locally is generally a case of reading something while in a cafe, taking notes in a meeting, or watching a movie in bed.
Software to run locally:
As you can see there are no requirements regarding Linux or Windows.
I have been very satisfied in the past with Dell Inspiron Mini 9 and with Toshiba NB550D, each of which lasted 3 years before some part failed. For the Dell Mini it was something in the keyboard, and for the NB550D it was something in the screen (I suspect a wire broke and am going to investigate). Both withstood serious amounts of trauma without incident. If I could find a mint condition NB550D still for sale I would buy it without hesitation.
We are talking about low spec'ed laptops here:
- ~1GHz processor
- < 10-inch screen
- No optical drive
- < $500
- 2-4GB of RAM (I have a 4GB stick to swap in from my NB550)
These kinds of requirements are what the netbook brandings were all about, but they seem to be going away. I see a few Chromebooks still for sale, but I have no experience with them.