I did notice your usage of "USD" but didn't think much of it. Usually, that would mean someone overseas. But it could also mean a non-American shopping in America.
But now that we know you're overseas, you're right that the prices are different. Would 2900 USD in whatever country you're going to buy the notebook be equal to $2000 in the U.S.?
What you should buy vis-a-vis video, HD, and processor configurations depends on how fast you expect your machine to be. Some people expect a lot, some have more reasonable expectations. If you're the former, then you better aim high (or as high as possible).
The apps you listed seem to be processor-intensive rather than graphics-intensive. If you don't intend to play games (and you say don't), then it's OK to get integrated graphics. This will save you considerable money - you can use the extra savings to get a better CPU or faster HD.
There's little difference between 1.5GHz and 1.6GHz. The difference comes into play only when one pits a 1.3 or 1.4 against a 1.7. 4200rpm seems slow these days, it's preferable to get 5400rpm. If you can 7200rpm, that'll be fantastic. HD speed would have a big impact on the apps that you use - a lot of file access.
It's tough for me to point out any specific models for you because, as you've noted, the prices in the U.S. and abroad are different. Why don't you look for a model that you like and ask for people's opinions in this forum? That way, you'll know what model fits your budget. You would know best.
As for brands, Fujitsu, IBM, Acer, and Toshiba are worth looking into.