I guess I can zero in on one of my greatest concerns - processing the RAW image. I am trying to understand if one package does a better job than another. In this forum it appears that there is a inclination to say that NX does a better job than others. Are there any resources (reviews, etc.) or forum members' tests that can guide me to understanding the relative quality?
Your use of the phrase "relative quality" is appropriate, because a lot of it is subjective.
Let me start by noting that this forum is brand new, so there is not much in the way of information to be a useful guide, at least not yet.
Also, I have really only use Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, and NX for RAW conversion. I have not tried CaptureOne, Bibble, or others.
From my experience, limited as noted above, NX produces better results from original NEF files than the Adobe products. This is not surprising, since Nikon knows what is embedded in their files and Adobe is guessing and reverse engineering. That being said, for an all-in-all, end-to-end solution, PS CS3 and Bridge, with ACR, do a great job. Even though ACR is a third-party product, the Adobe engineers are tops, and they deliver great results. The conversions are really first-rate, and organizing files with Bridge is very good.
For me, the programs offer more features than I can use or understand, and they cost too much for me (of course, I keep paying for upgrades, too, because I don't want to be without them, either...)
Personally, comparing RAW conversions of the same image on the same color managed screen side by side converted from ACR and NX, I can tell the difference, and I personally think NX does a better job. But, if you were to show me them one at a time, I probably could not tell the difference. Try it yourself. Download CS3 or Lightroom for a trial and NX for a trial, and see if you like one more than another. If you have time, try CaptureOne, too.
I find NX to be more of a photographer's tool, while CS3 is a tool for serious graphic artists. I spent years in the darkroom, and NX appeals to me because it reminds me of darkroom work. Note that you cannot manipulate pixels in NX; NX is an IMAGE editing program, it is not a pixel editing program. So, there is no clone stamp, no cutting and moving things around. If you want to do that, go with CS3.
Sorry for the run on, but there really is not a simple answer to your question. So much of it is personal preference. My suggestion, if you want one: if you are committed to Nikon equipment, download NX for a free trial and try it out. Get two books for now: RealWorld Capture NX by Ben Long, which you can get at a bookstore or from Amazon, and Jason Odell's NX Guide, which you download (find it with Google). You will have to read both to get the hang of the program. Start with Long's book. (Actually, get the books first then download the trial).
After you had played with NX for a few weeks, download a trial version of Lightroom and see how you like that. I don't have recommendations for books on that because I don't use it.
For organizing your photos, try PhotoMechanic from Camera Bits, which also offers a free trial period.
If you want someone to tell you what to do, compare the combination of NX and PhotoMechanic with Lightroom (by itself).
And let us know what you think!