I recently came up with 3 mostly-stripped HP ProBook 1415s laptops that were being thrown out. They’re decent little machines – WXGA (720p) screens, dual-core AMD processors with decent onboard graphics and HDMI output. I have compatible laptop memory and a hard drive from the Dell I found a while ago, so I’ll probably try rebuilding one of them.
The other two, I think I’m going to harvest the LCD panels. Until recently, it’s generally not been cost-effective to reuse laptop screens because the controller boards were integrated into the laptop and aftermarket ones weren’t widely available. That’s changed recently with inexpensive external LVDS controllers like these sold on eBay which make it possible to reuse a laptop LCD as a regular monitor.
I’m probably going with the inexpensive VGA option which comes with an inverter to power the backlight. I don’t have any application in mind just yet, but I’ll think of something.