I just got my new laptop about 3 weeks ago: I use the Dell INspiron 8600. I generally don't like Dell, but their notebooks turn out impressive. Good stuff for cheap price. This model (that cost around 1,150 bucks) can easily run Unreal Tournament 2004, has awsome sound, wireless card build in, CD-RW-DVD drive, and can pretty much do everything I need (gaming, music, homework, programming, animating, website building, ect.)
about some of the other models you had:
Gateway - their laptops seem to have worse customer statisfaction and their insurance is bad
Sony - so-so
IBM- The best quality, but cost quite a bit
Toshiba - good overall
But my current preferance would have to be the Dell Inspiron series. Check them out!
Hope that helped