But if no matter what, if you're going to buy a new laptop, buy a Mac.
Not only will you save time in administering it ("it just works"), and
not only are there better tools available for the Mac than for the PC
(there are /more/ PC apps, but they all tend to suck, whileas your
average Mac app does not. Who needs 100 versions of the same thing
when you can just have the 5 best?), but a Mac is cheaper. Costs less
money. Heresy, I know. But an iBook, given its capabilities and all
the free software it comes loaded up with, costs less in the end than a
/similarly equipped/ PC. There are good Windows programs that do what
good Mac programs do, but you have to buy them. And I'm sure you've
used iTunes. Now imagine if all of the software on your computer
worked so well.
If you have really huge amounts of quotations and so forth that you
have to manage, read this article about Devonthink:
The best tools I've found for doing long papers and so forth are all
Unixy: LaTeX for creating the paper, and stuff like BibTeX for
There is a great OS X front end for BibTeX called Bibdesk, and a great
LaTeX studio for OS X called TeXShop (although I now use a couple of
scripts and TextWrangler instead.)
This route is not for everyone, though. It really is, though,
honestly, much much better than using a word processor. (and LyX, a
weird LaTeX front-end that is sort of word-processory, is horrible.)
I have found, though, that MS Word for OS X is more elegant and usable
than MS Word for Windows--- in fact, I think Word has been around
longer on the Mac than on Windows! Also, Pages is very nice, but I
haven't used it for anything big.
The Mac also has loads of neat little information management apps---
things like Notational Velocity, VoodooPad--- check the wiki. With
Tiger you will be able to do real-time full-text searches of your
entire hard drive.
The Mac is tailored for people who create. If you're really interested
in getting a good workflow, there's no other way.
Good luck with your upcoming work!