I bought a $15,000 HKD (about 1000 quid in 2005) laptop in December 2005, and it lasted until October 2007 before the motherboard burned out. Dell's been hit with class-action lawsuits for the Dell 9400/E1705 series, but they have refused to admit their design was flawed. I'll never buy another Dell laptop myself. I do, however, have a Dell monitor. IMO you'd be better off with an ASUS or HP.
One good thing about buying a laptop here is that there is no VAT whatsoever.
I think the prices in HK are very comparable to the ones in the UK. UK might actually be somewhat cheaper, especially if you bought the laptop at an online store such as ebuyer.co.uk. Also, if you're planning on staying in HK only for a year, it's more likely that you'll be back in the UK when/if something goes wrong with the machine and you need to claim your warranty.
HP makes good printers, but I'd never touch their laptop. Don't have much experience with Asus, but my friend's Asus laptop just died after only couple of months (again, great motherboards, but I'm not so sure about their laptops). Definitely stay away from Sony. Dell is a good brand overall, but as Jay says they might have had a problem with a specific line of their products. Personally, my best experience is with Acer. Have had two laptops from them, each has been running for years without a single glitch.
Thanks for the advice, I think Dell are a bit hit and miss, my friend at work has had the same Dell for close to 3 years, granted its a bit slow these days, but it still does everything it did when he first got it.
I've had a look on ebuyer.com as well as the usual computer sites in the UK (aria.co.uk, scan.co.uk, microdirect.co.uk) and they all have veyr competitive prices. I was told that Hong Kong was THE place to buy electronics but after reading up in a few places, I don't know if this is still the case.
With regards to Jay's Tax Free comment, do you have to pay Tax on the item when you bring it back into the country? this was the impression that I got from a few people so please advise if this is not the case..
veetmarg, thanks for pointing out the obvious which I had forgotten in all the excitement of travelling, which is.. If I buy it in Hong Kong it won't be under warranty if I'm living back in the UK! I think I will buy before I fly, The Dell outlet Site has very competitive prices so I might be swayed by them and I will take insurance on the item to be safe.