I’m the first to say that Linux has a way to go before it will unseat Windows, but it’s a lot closer that it’s ever been. I generally recommend trying a Live CD version first – that’s a Linux you can run from the CD without installing – to see if it supports your hardware fully. Lack of hardware support is the chief issue for new users.
HP makes drivers for its hardware for Windows, but does not for Linux. Getting your hardware to work means finding a user contributed driver.
Laptop compatibility is more difficult than desktop since laptops often use unusal hardware. I recommend a visit to Linux on Laptops, http://www.linux-laptop.net/, for specifics about which Linux distros work best for your laptop.