1) Sandy Bridge processor for the speed and the fact that it runs fairly cool. Not trying to be a fanboi (in fact I still love AMD as they provide a better bang for your buck in many cases) but you can't go wrong with either an i5 or i7 processor.
2) Minimum 4GB of RAM
3) Best graphics solution you can afford. You won't be able to upgrade your videocard in a laptop so make sure you get the best that your budget will allow for if you plan on doing any gaming. Ok, technically you can upgrade the videocard but you would need to crack open the laptop case which I don't recommend to most people try. It's not difficult if you know what you're doing but it can be a nightmare if you aren't familiar with the process.
4) For harddrives, although SSD's are great for running an OS they are far more expensive than an ordinary harddrive for a lot less drive space. For my desktop I use a Corsair SSD to run Windows 7 64bit and a few programs that really benefit from the drive speed, but everything else gets installed on one of my other drives. In general I'd say you're probably better off going with more harddrive space on a regular 2.5" notebook harddrive than with an SSD. There are a few other issues with SSD's that I won't bother getting into but suffice it to say, a standard harddrive with decent drive space (500GB or more) will meet your needs no problem.
Again these are only my personal recommendations and others may have differing advice so take it all with a grain of salt.