I don't want to ignite a Windows vs Apple debate, but I pretty much only ever use Apple products. I have an array of them at home and three computers at work, and literally never do I wish that I could use Windows for something.

But occasionally it's just necessary to use a PC for various reasons. I have a Toshiba laptop that I bought in 2010 I think (so not THAT old..?), which I mainly use as a TV that can download things, but it's starting to die/do weird things. For school, moreover, I have to use a program that doesn't have a Mac version, and it's getting pretty tiresome to have to truck down to the lab every time I want to work on it.

This is background to explain that I need to buy a new Windows laptop, but I am completely checked out of the market and I have no idea what's decent or what I should look for anymore. I really dislike Windows 8, like a lot, so if Windows 7 is still about I would really prefer that. I don't want to go over $500 (or at least not much). Help me, GT-wan Kenobe. You're my only hope.