I don't think your friend would go far wrong in buying them. I currently have one of HP's business models (Elitebook 2530p) and it's so well built I could almost swear it was cast from a single block of metal. I had the previous HP 2510p and that was just as good. If the 'consumer' models are only half as well built I reckon they would still be excellent. On the one occassion I had to deal with their customer support it was quite good.
Besides, it seems to get some good reviews, and it's a decent spec for the money so I think it would be a good buy.