I am thinking of buying an HP ProBook 4540s laptop for my mother. She is currently using a Toshiba Satellite laptop that is at least 5-6 years old. It has a 1.3 Ghz Celeron CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 15.4" matte screen, and Windows XP SP3. It runs fine, but it's at a point where it has a hard time rendering more resource-intensive web pages, e.g. forbes.com. Having more than 3-4 browser tabs open, not to mention a second application (such as Word, Excel, or Windows Media Player), also slows it down considerably. My mom doesn't use multiple browser tabs or run multiple applications on her laptop, but I do, and I use her laptop at least once or twice per week.
I work at a university and our tech store sells the HP ProBook 4540s. I like it because it's built well, has a nice brushed metal finish, a predictable trackpad with a nicely grained surface, and most of all, it has a matte screen, which is a must-have for the environment (reflections from light) that it will be used in. I'm not a huge fan of chiclet keyboards, but the one on the HP is decent and usable. I can buy a refurbished 4540s from our tech store for $399 (might be able to get them to knock another $25-50 if I'm lucky), or I can buy a brand new one from Tiger Direct for $499 plus shipping. The refurbished one has a second generation Core i3 2370M 2.4 Ghz processor, whereas the brand new one has a third generation Core i3 3110M 2.4 Ghz processor. The refurbished one does not come with a warranty. I'm not in a big hurry to buy my mother a new laptop, but I want to get one with Windows 7 preinstalled because it will be much easier for her to switch from Windows XP to 7. It probably won't be long before new laptops with Windows 7 become unavailable.