I think the A series Sony's are good, but I agree about the price. The best way to get one is via the Clearance models on the Sony site. These can be $500 less than retail.
If you don't want the big daddy A290 with the 17" WUXGA screen, I think the best model is the A130/230 with the SXGA glossy screen, but then again I just don't like the coarse resolution of WXGA screens.
You can get them with a Dothan 735 and full warranty for around $1700 from Sony Clearance.
An even better financial choice, if you don't mind only having a 90 day warranty, are the refurbs.