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Must-have features for your next laptop

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.

Entertainment

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
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.

Surround-sound speakers
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.

Gaming

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.

  1. The features you should look for in a new device
  2. Long battery life
  3. Entertainment
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