If he is going to the States for several years he would do better to buy it over there. He will have easy access to service if anything goes wrong, he will get a machine with a dedicated USA keyboard and one with an American plug on the power supply cable. But best of all it will be a lot cheaper (almost $ for £)
As for brands Asus, Toshiba and Sony are reckoned to be among the best with HP/Compaq not far behind. He might even find an Apple at a reasonable price.