I can imagine you having trouble with Win8, Tony. There was a documentary last week that was actually about Apple, but they also compared tablet computers and so they also compared Win8, iOS and Android. While the testers agreed that Win8 was very nicely designed (well, de gustibus non est disputandum) they also found that it wasn't very clear how to use it
. I've never used it but from what I've seen I don't like it (well, to be honest, i don't like any Windows. I can live with XP and 7 if I have to, I loathe Vista). My dad was considering getting a new laptop and thought Win 8 was another reason (apart from his old one being, well, older, still running Vistra and having a broken DVD drive) to get a new one. I told him that Win8 was a reason NOT to get a new one.
What kind of Laptop you should get depends on what you want to do with it. You already said you would be lugging it around, so I guess a maximum of 14" would be right (only, it's hard to get these nowadays, 15,6" or even 17,x" being the norm), probably smaller, like 13,3" or 12,1" or netbook size.
Then there's the question of whether you want to do some processor demanding tasks on there like gaming, graphics editing, video editing and such, or lighter tasks such as using a word processor (since you deleted it from your old one, probably not), sorting and browsing photos, surfing the web (well, depending on how many tabs you have open this can be quite demanding on RAM and CPU power) and writing mails.
As an alternative, if you don't depend on Windows for some special software, you might try to install Linux on your old netbook, for example Lubuntu for a very fast and lightweight desktop, or Mint, which is not all that lightweight but should still be smaller than Windows and is very easy to use.
The laptop Dug linked to is quite nice, only the CPU is a bit weak. Compared to your old netbook, however, which probably has runs on an Intel Atom, it should be sufficient.