The features you should look for in a new notebook
Time to turn in your old workhorse for a new laptop? Here's our guide to the essential features to look for - whether you're considering an ultraportable or an all-purpose model.
Laptop entertainment features have greatly improved in the past few years. Most laptops now have an HDMI port for connecting via HDMI cable to an HDTV. Many entertainment-centric laptops also provide Intel Windows Display (WiDi), which can stream HD video wirelessly to TVs that have a WiDi adapter.
Blu-ray drives are common options in entertainment-oriented midsize laptops, though they usually come as an extra-cost add-on rather than as part of the standard configuration. For a hefty premium, you can even get a Blu-ray drive that burns to 25GB capacity Blu-ray discs. If you're an entertainment junkie, you'll almost certainly want a Blu-ray drive as well as full high-definition resolution (1920x1080 pixels) for the display.
Many laptops carry tinny integrated stereo speakers, but you can get great cinema-quality sound from a laptop with better speakers, such as those in the well-regarded HP Envy 17. Adding external speakers or other laptop sound-quality-boosters to your laptop setup is always an option if the stock speakers are puny, but one sign that a laptop was built for entertainment enthusiasts is the presence of HD audio.
Sound and a stunning display are important for a gaming laptop, too. You'll also probably want lots of RAM and the newest quad-core processors to make the system as speedy as possible.
Discrete graphics card
Perhaps the most important extra feature for a gaming laptop is a graphics card. Recently introduced gaming laptops such as the Asus Lamborghini VX7 boast lots of dedicated video memory (the Lamborghini VX7 has 3GB of video memory).
Switchable graphics - for example, the Optimus technology Nvidia unveiled last year - make conserving battery life easier, even on laptops made for gaming.