Yep, same thing happened to me re: the i8600. Really sad too, because they dropped in price + I finally received a 10% off coupon -- I could really get a good deal on it now! But I'm more interested in being awed by my machine than the price. And, just really don't like the looks of the i8600 -- something about the bathroom blue trim and the giant Chrysler wings on the lid ... so the entire planet can see you have a Dell ... not appealing!
My research is done. I have definitely decided on the HP nw8000. It does have the 7200rpm HD, and the only other difference between it and the nc8000 is the video graphics ... the 128 9600 Pro graphics on the nc8000, probably best for gamers, and the 128 Fire GL graphics on the nw8000 - best for graphic artists. The nw8000 is a few hundred $ more than the nc8000. They both should drop in price in a few months, I would think. But I can't wait any longer, so going for it. I had my heart set on the 7200 drive also ... but I think the 5400 is a substantially good drive as well.
I would advise, if you do settle on the nc8000, before ordering it online, give a call to sales and ask if you would do better ordering online or from them, and if they can offer you a discount. I did that yesterday, and they offered me an 8% discount whichs takes about $260. off the price. Anything helps!!
Good luck in your search - since you're waiting a few months you will find much better prices in that time frame -- once the Dothan chip is released.