Drive-cloning software recommendations?

I’m thinking of upgrading the hard drive on my laptop, and I’d rather just clone my current data rather than reinstall Windows and all the eight thousand applications I need. So - does anyone have any recommendations (freeware or shareware appreciated, because I don’t really want to shell out for Norton Ghost for a one-time upgrade) for what I could use to clone my hard drive? I have an external drive that’s sufficiently large, and a desktop from which to do the actual cloning process.

All reviews I’ve seen give higher marks to the Acronis product.

I recently downloaded the freeware DriveImage XML. Haven’t used it yet, but one doper said it worked great for him. Again, free.