With some things, I tend to buy refurbs... Such as my last 4 laptops. Have had great success with all, with the latest being an Alienware M14x from the dell outlet for about $650. Awesome little beastie, about 1/3 of the price of ordering new.
The issue with refurbs, is you never know what you are going to get. A refurb is simply an item that has been refurbished. The level of refurbishment is unknown to the buyer and sometimes even to the seller. Simply put, however, whatever the issue was, should have been fixed, regardless of how minor or complex. But given that sometimes the seller doesn't know what was fixed or maybe what to look for to fix, you may not always get a 100% product, despite "refurb" status indicating that a product should be 100%.
With a company like Dell, I would be confident to assume that any product that was refurbished was indeed 100%, because every time a unit is returned to them, they lose money on it. A unit sold as new can not be sold again as new if it was opened. So if Dell sells a $2000 laptop and someone sends it back for whatever reason, Dell can not sell it as new again, hence I got it for $650.
Essentially Dell sold two $2000 laptops here, but only got $2650 plus they had to eat the cost of the repairs, shipping, and...?
Did it actually require fixing? I will never know.
So it's a risk... But if you are cautious about who you buy refurbs from (and do your research), they can be AWESOME deals.