He has a Laney amp?? Thats what I use for 'real'.
Amp modeling is real nice, BUT it has to be good. I have all Behringer equipment (Bass Vamp Pro
and a Vamp-2). It really comes down to money.
If I had the money, I probably would have bought a POD Pro. Since I dont have a spare 600.00 bucks laying around, the Behringer stuff is more along the lines I need to stay. Yea, its true the Behringer stuff is made in China, but this is not the same crap you find at the local dollar store: the Beringer Vamp equipment is quality equipment. They also proport to be a ISO9002 manufacturer, meaning they use the accepted standards of quality assurance recognised world wide (China has been shaping up the same way Japan did in the 70s with manufacturing).
While I like the POD equipment, I think, and everyone else will chime in, that the Vamp is the deal for the money. I just picked up a Vamp-2 with a case, power supple, strap, and footswitch for 99.00 at Musicians Fiend. The PODxt comes in at 300.00 for basically the same thing (OK, the POD has a better display).
Your buddy should buy the Vamp Pro for 160.00 if he wants a gigging box. Otherwise, buy a Vamp-2. If he really likes the little plastic box modeler thing, go for the POD XT.
Again, its money. I dont think really one is significantly better than the other sound-wise.
I only know the POD and Vamp equipment. TC makes some amp modeling gear, also as well as Roland.
Chances are, your buddy with the Laney is used to tone and responce, and none of the amp modeling stuff will do more than 'G-Wiz' him, so he is better off spending the 99.00 for a Vamp-2 (I love the Vamp-2! Its as addictive as Heroin but doesnt have near the withdrawl!)