I mean how much does he honestly plan on using the optical drive?
Hard to say, although he uses the Netflix "by mail" option. More importantly, he never wants to have to screw around swapping stuff in and out. He wants the system to sit on his desk and just work, with minimal fuss. He's ditching his desktop PC, and is understandably sick of extra cables, drives, dongles, and etc. cluttering his desk. I'm just glad he's not going the Macbook route.
I have never seen this configuration on something under a laptop under 17 inches.
It's available in several 15.6" models from MSI. Way too pricey, though.
Is he planning on using a docking station?
Thats the problem with laptops. Lots of compromising.
Actually, cost aside, a 17" model would offer exactly what the user is looking for with no compromises. But of course cost is one of the most important factors. I think, if pushed against the wall, he'll spend the money on a Dell XPS 17, which actually looks freaking sweet. However, most of the performance will be lost on him. The nice 1920x1080 screen option will be appealing, though.