I have an ASUS model and it gets about 4 hours of battery before you have to plug it in. Fun fact: ASUS makes internal computer parts for Mac, so they're practically the same thing, but ASUS is at a fraction of the cost of a Mac. Typically the laptop goes anywhere from $600 to $1200. Still cheaper than a Mac and probably better quality. Plus, based on experience, the laptop is pretty durable. Mine was dropped off of the top of a luggage cart and it's only bent a little bit on the bottom right side of the tray, and the cover has only one small crack on the corner.
What's your budget? Is it just for internet surfing, or does it get used for games, lots of music, etc.? Can you use an Ultrabook or do you need a DVD drive?
My HP Pavilion g7 is a really solid laptop. W8 is not that difficult to get used to and most programs that work with W7 will cross over to W8 by now. Just get Chrome and toss IE10 - it's still got compatibility issues.
Check out Newegg.com, it's a great computer buying website. They have a guide here: