I agree that a computer is simply a tool of the trade. It's like buying canvas as an art major. Some schools actually require that you have a laptop (NYU comes to mind). I don't think skimping on a laptop is a wise way to save $800. What if your backpack gets stolen and it contains all your notes? At least with a laptop you can (and certainly should) backup your notes. I will say that I'm kind of a tech guy, so I'm a bit biased, but I'm not sure I could go without mine.