Some of the best deals on laptops occur at refurbished laptop sites (eg, http://www.cheetahdeals.com/Refurbished_Laptops_s/... I know they're not as "sexy" as buying a new MacBook Air, say. But there's nothing sexy about being broke, either!
I would try to be somewhat thrifty if your aim is just Internet surfing, is what I'm saying. You can buy a full-function laptop, therefore avoiding the trade-offs you make with a netbook. Netbooks generally have tiny screens with poor resolution, making your Internet experience pretty crappy (IMHO). Finding an inexpensive laptop would be the way I'd go. (Or buying an external display for a netbook, but that kind of defeats the point of netbooks: Portability.)