I would like to address both statements you made and if I may bring you up to date. I have worked for a major electrical supplier in Tech Zone in Australia for 4 years so I see the rapid changes occuring every day and prior to that I owned a VAR Apple reseller business for 22 years so I feel I can provide input on both platforms. I still sell Apple computers to a select group of clients outside of my day to day job.
Changes that are occurring with so called traditional pc (towers) and laptops regardless of platform is fast and furious. Many of the changes confuse older users or should I say mature people lol as they are use to traditional methods of doing things and don't like to rock the boat. The changes are simple .....DVD drives are dying fast in the mainstream new laptops as manufactures produce Apple look alike ultralight computers no DVD no VGA connections minimum number of USB and in many cases SSD solid state hard drives to max size of 512gb (if you can afford it) Battery life now around 8 hours instead of 2-4 if you are lucky... The other item that changes is the processors are slower by performance ie 1.6mhz to 2mhz. Yet the perormance overall is similar to a traditional laptops due to the SSD drive. The other changes are I call hybrid laptops where they have 500gb plus drives installed as well as a small SSD 64gb drive for the OS and some like Samsung have slot DVD drives however I suspect by 2013 that will disappear. . Lapt tops are out selling desktops by about 60 to one mainstream laptops are "have I got a deal for you" Under $800 computers. Except for gamers and business users the higher end laptops in our location at lease are slow moving. Keep in mind our core business is consumers not business and high end systems. What I find amusing is more than half teh buyers are buying cheap laptops for email, face book, banking, surfing the web, music and picture storage and limited word processing and oh using Skype. Hello !!! isnt this what the iPad can do...........!!!! . However compared to what we were selling 2 years ago this market is getting smaller... Why... THE IPAD Is killing this section of the market not to mention gaming, cameras, Portable DVD players etc etc. Our other stores whom sell the iPads are moving even now (off season winter) around 50 to 100 a week and theses stores are small. The traditional Towers are slow sellers also as again all in one computers are becoming more popular unless you are a hard gamer and want a rocket ship on your desktop that vibrates when you play on line games.....
So what does this mean like the millions of others buying iPads it is all about Apps which is why I can use my iPad 80% to 90% of the time. I donot need a laptop or tower except for home storage of music iTunes and some special quoting software I use in my consulting business. The laptop is used mainly by the family but not by myself.
All traditional consumer computers are shipped with backup partitions (pc only) and no longer include disks so recovery is done by combination of keys to start the process. Most manufactures offer some sort of backup as part of the package. Apple now offers as an option a USB memory stick with the OS installed. All updates and new versions of Apple OS are completed via the OS app store over the air..... This can cause problems if one has slow Internet however in most cases it just works with out issues. From what Incan understand windows 8 will also be over the air update similar to Apple so be prepared for that if you own a PC.
To answer your question about what you need to buy I suggest making a hot list of your requirements before spending your hard earned money and ask your self do you really want a windows laptop or tower when you can purchase a Mac and if you really want to also run windows 7 or 8 at the same time Decide what are you going to use the main stream computer for I asume something usefull like running Cad photography programs or heavy gaming. Hopefully then making that decision will be easier. In your case I would consider putting a SSD drive into the 2008 MacBook upping the ram to 4gb if you have not done so and sit tight for another year and see what comes along. Install the new mountain lion when it becomes available and if you need more storage use external drives and even. NAS (network drive) that can offer extra store for your iPad as well. Yes this is long winded but hopefully assist you and by the way we also have a sister forum (Appleforums.net) that may offer some answers..... Cheers. Colin