Multimedia notebooks review

Our tests review the latest generation multimedia laptops.
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06.What to look for

Here’s what to look for in choosing a multimedia powerhouse/desktop replacement laptop computer:

  • Storage capacity — a decent-sized hard disk drive (at least 120 GB) or even multiple drives. The Toshiba Satellite X200 for example, is fitted with two 200 GB hard drives for a whopping 400 GB of internal storage.
  • External video connections. DVI or HDMI port (to connect to large displays — e.g. a TV, widescreen monitor, projector).
  • Wireless networking — 802.11n is the latest and fastest but most will come with 802.11g.
  • Webcam and microphone — built-in for multimedia, VoIP (internet telephony) and videoconferencing and instant messaging. All the laptops in our test had both features.
  • Multimedia card reader — all laptops in this test included a reader, except the Apple MacBook Pro 17 inch. Check for compatibility with existing equipment, such as your digital camera.
  • Remote control or function buttons (on the notebook chassis) for multimedia control.
  • Dual-layer DVD burner — plays and burns DVDs and CDs. The Dell XPS M1730 was the only laptop in this test fitted with a Blu-ray optical drive for playing the new generation of high definition discs. It also burns dual-layer DVDs and CDs.
  • Security software — preferably a full security suite for Windows computers with at least 12 months of updates. \
  • Warranty — at least 12 months, preferably with on-site service. Before buying, check the manufacturer’s warranty on the battery and also the dead-pixel policy for the LCD screen. Usually, a manufacturer’s dead-pixel warranty coverage will require a specific number of dead pixels (individual screen ‘dots’ that no longer work) within a certain screen area before allowing a warranty claim for replacement. Note that dead-pixel policies can vary greatly between brands.

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