On the high side look at this one:
Newegg.com - ASUS K53 Series K53E-B1 Notebook Intel Core i5 2410M(2.30GHz) 15.6" 6GB Memory DDR3 1333 640GB HDD 5400rpm DVD Super Multi Intel HD Graphics 3000
I've had some good experience with ASUS. Not that laptop in particular, but other products from them.
If you're looking to stay closer to $600 then I'd say this would be a good bet:Newegg.com - HP ProBook 4530s (XU017UT#ABA) Notebook Intel Core i3 2310M(2.10GHz) 15.6" 4GB Memory DDR3 1333 320GB HDD 7200rpm DVD Super Multi Intel HD Graphics 3000
Really, as long as a you stay with an Intel i-series processor, 4GB+ of RAM, and a decently sized drive you should get a winner. If you feel like jumping up a few $100 you could probably snag a larger screen, but those tend to diminish battery life.
Not compared to a spray finish, the Tru Oil is very easy. Here's what you do... http://www.lmii.com/carttwo/truoil.htm
I varied 800 and 1200 paper for the steel wool and finished with 3M rubbing compound then finishing material for a semigloss shine.