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Rick's laptop...

Hey everyone, I'm new to the group.

As far as Rick's situation goes I would suggest buying the fastest 
processor with as much RAM as possible as he can afford. Let me strongly 
suggest using a firewire based
interface like a presonus firestation or MOTU828 instead of usb.

As far as pc vs mac? Go with the platform you're familiar with. Make 
sure that your version of ableton is  optimized for OSX and XP.
Kantos, to my knowledge, is currently only available for mac.

Rick, keep in mind the biggest gap between using a laptop soft synth and 
keyboard controller is latency. Using this and Ableton live on the same 
pc MAY be maddening in a live setting.

Consider how track intensive your looping arrangements are going to be 
and how much real time control you need out of a synth. If all you need 
to do are filter sweeps and adsr manipulation running something like 
Storm, or Absynth, should be fine with an oxygen 8.  

Otherwise  seek out  a piece of hardware like a korg microkorg or 
novation Kstation.  You'll be able to sync these up through midi to 
ableton and would leave your laptop free to do process audio.

Good Luck,