i know dells arent up to par as a thinkpad (consistently up to par, though mine has been fine 2.5 yrs in)....but i can literally get 2 dell laptops with similar performance for how much you paid for your thinkpad. No flame.....but just trying to put it into perspective. i know the thinkpad lovers r gonna hate me....but cmon. if you just backup your important data on an external or something...you should be ok.
Dell only sells two models with similar specs, the 630 and 830, and both are more expensive.
here we go....i know that those who already bought it will feel the need to point out every reason that their thinkpad is better than a dell, despite the fact that during ls, you will need no where near the computing power that some of these laptops boast. If you can wing it, more power to you.
So let me rephrase. You can get a dell that will perform above and beyond what is needed for law school. 2 of them depending on how above and beyond you want. Now i agree that thinkpads seeem to be more reliable consistently than Dells. I say seems because i had a thinkpad R40? about 2.5 yrs ago that had its motherboard crap out. I needed a computer immediately so thats when i bought my current laptop Dell 700m and got it within 2 days. IBM fixed the mobo after a few weeks.. Sold the thinkpad on ebay since i had no need for two, and the 700m was lighter. I bring this up to show that no laptop is beyond malfunctioning (albeit some are more prone than others). So this brings me to my original point....why not just get a cheaper dell (with a 3 yr full-warrenty), still for a little over 1/2 of what 1 thinkpad costs? Thinkpads are pretty sweet though....
I can attest from surviving 1L year that a couple of days or even a week without my laptop would be too much. I had two classes this past semester (crim law) where the prof just basically spat out an unabiguous outline each and every class but spoke so fast that there is no freaking way your able to write quick enough to keep up.
I mention this because the logic of holding a Dell or some other brand with a 3 year warranty in the same or similar light as a Thinkpad similarly situated is faulty. That admittingly steep increase in price buys you a machine that will spend less time being repaired but also is a, tangible and intangible, better deal. I can't put a price on being able to type on a keyboard that doesn't flex or sound tinny or simply has keys that fall off after typically heavy law school use. My X41 tablet was fine in this regard - had my needs not changed (read: feeble Centrino processor and slow hard drive unable to support specific programs) I would still be using it.