HP Business Outlet
As I haven't seen many testimonials out on the internet from people who have ordered from the HP Business Outlet, I thought I'd share my own experience.
The first thing you might notice is that the HP Business Outlet is really just a daily updated list of refurbished computers from HP. One of the issues with this is that the laptops are taken throughout the day and when you call to order you may find the model you want has already been sold. If you are interested in ordering from the outlet try to have a good 2-3 options in mind when calling so you have a good chance of getting one. I was lucky and was able to get my first choice part number though.
The prices they list are very reasonable and when I ordered there was an additional 20% off promotion on all clearance section business computers. As a college student, I had been wanting a nice but reasonably priced business-class laptop for some time and I was able to snag a EliteBook 8440p (Core i5, 2GB RAM, WebCam, 250GB HDD...) for only $658.91 including shipping and taxes. I would consider that to be an extremely good deal considering that those things normally cost well over $1K and at best even the ThinkPad T410 I was also considering would've cost at least 100-200 dollars more.
The orders are done fully through the phone, and hold times could potentially get long at certain times; I waited only about 5 minutes though which isn't bad at all. It is somewhat annoying that you really have to make sure they get every letter of your address and email and all that correctly over the phone, but the HP rep was professional and easy to work with. Naturally he tried to sell me a couple of extra accessories to go with the EliteBook I was ordering but when I said I didn't need them he didn't ask twice.
I placed my order on 11/30/2010 and I received a Fedex tracking number promptly the next day. I received my EliteBook on the morning of 12/3/2010, so I got this thing about as fast as I would get any web order from Newegg or Amazon. Kudos to the HP Business Outlet and Fedex for speedy service.
Now on to the actual laptop…
You can see pictures of exactly what I got here: EliteBook 8440p Photobucket Gallery
The unit I received was more or less in like new condition, except for a small scratch or two on the lid (which probably happened during shipping as they didn't even put the thing in plastic wrap) and the Microsoft sticker peeling off on one edge. I'd say they should've done a bit better of a job with packaging, but other than that my laptop has been working great and I really like it. I won't bother to review the 8440p in particular as there are plenty of those on the web already, but I will say that I really like the brushed metal look and feel, and that it is a very solid laptop overall. I also think that your mouse-input options on the ThinkPad T-series are a bit better, but the EliteBook in my case was a better value and actually has a more solid feel in my opinion.
I would definitely recommend taking a look at the HP Business Outlet to anyone who is looking for a nice machine on a budget; they have an excellent selection at reasonable prices and if something does break you have a 1yr standard HP warranty to cover your back. My experience was quite positive overall and I hope it will be the same for all of you as well. Thanks for reading!