I ended up with a Tablet PC and I LOVE the tablet aspect. I can see using it a lot, especially as someone who never used a laptop in class during undergrad. (Heh, back in my day we had these nifty notebooks made of paper. Man it sucked when you ran out of paper in the middle of class or your pen quit working.)
I ended up with the HP Pavilion tx1499us (think that's it.) I found it for $699 at Office Depot this weekend. My only complaint is the 6 cell batter is heavy and sticks out of the back. I may see how much trouble it is to shut it down and then restart for every class so I don't have to have the battery with me at all.
I did not get the Office Depot warranty, rather I looked up how much it would cost to add coverage for my PC's (all of them) to my renter's insurance and it was minimal (the total for the renter's insurance would be about $200/year, not sure how much of that is the PC protection.) It would cover everything, even if I spilled something on it or if it got stolen (manufacturers' warranties usually don't cover theft.) No, it's not next day service, but for emergencies I have another (much larger, but still workable) laptop that I can use while getting insurance to cut me a check for a new computer. (For other claims, it has taken me a week or so to get a check from them, so I probably wouldn't be out of my primary laptop for more than a week or so.)
I plan to get 2 USB drives and my husband has an external harddrive. I plan to backup to one USB and the external HD weekly (I'll use the other USB drive for transferring data or whatever.)
So, I guess this is just one less thing I have to worry about.
PS you can get Office 2007 for Home and Students (I get it through a discount at my work for $87.) It includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and OneNote. It can be installed on up to 3 PC's. Try to find someone who can get this discount, that's a huge savings.