For the most part, I agree with the recent story in Consumer Reports with respect to extended warranties. I must say they have saved me thousands of dollars on two laptops.
1. In B-School, we were required to buy a laptop. Because the school recommended Dell's and we didn't know better, most of us purchased Dell's with an extended service plan. Frankly, the Dell was a lemon and the extended service plan came into play on two separate occassions. On a student budget, I would not have been able to pay for a replacement.
2. Due to my hatred of Dell, I purchased an Apple to replace the Dell. Because of the reliability issues with the Dell, I purchased an extended warranty from CompUSA. Unfortunately, the Apple needed 2 screens and 1 keyboard. While CompUSA service techs were slow, they did manage to fix the problems eventually. 4-5 years later, the Apple continues to work.
Combined with experiences with work laptops, I believe laptops are inherently unstable and likely to have problems. If the extended warranty is available at a decent price, it can be a lifesaver.