You'll be fine with a refurbished HP
Since you seem to like the HP brand, I see no compelling reason to shop around. At the HP Shopping web site, click the 'Outlet Center' link in the lower left, which explains what 'refurbished' means at HP.
I recently had problems with the video card in a new HP desktop, and their service was excellent. I called (granted, you have to navigate the dreaded voice menu first, but it took less than 5 minutes) and after a brief discussion, HP was going to send me a new video card. I could have installed it myself, but I have other computers and didn't want to mess with it, so I told them I wasn't able to install it myself. The next day I received a shipping box and pre-paid FedEx label. FedEx picked it up on Feb 7th. I got an email from HP with my case # and a link to track the package or the progress of service. The link said estimated return date of Feb 20th. So, I was pleasantly surprised when my system arrived on the 12th. Unfortunately, I still have an issue with the video. I called HP again, and the next day 3 packages arrived, containing new memory modules and another new video card.
I was told a tech would arrive on the 16th to install these components. I picked the time, 1-5 pm, and on the appointed day, I got a call at 12:30 pm from the tech, asking if I preferred he came right at 1 pm or closer to 5 pm. I said 1 pm was fine, and he showed up at 1 on the nose. In less than an hour he had everything installed, left me some paperwork, and took the old components with him. My system has been fine since then (it has an HD DVD / Blu-ray drive, and it wasn't playing nice with the video card).
Throughout this experience, HP customer service was prompt, professional and courteous.
So, if you should happen to have an issue with your refurbished HP, I'm confident you will be able to resolve it to your satisfaction.
Have fun shopping for your 'new' computer.
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