If you haven’t shopped for a computer for a while, the following list of terms used for common PC features and functionality can help you make sure you get everything you need in your new PC. You can find additional terms in online dictionaries, such as Webopedia.
Connect an Ethernet cable to the Ethernet port (which looks much like a phone jack, but bigger) on your computer for wired Internet or local area network (LAN) access.
External SATA (eSATA) port
You can connect an external storage device, such as an external hard disk drive, to the eSATA port on your laptop. The eSATA connection can transfer information faster than a USB connection can.
HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) cables carry audio and video—so no more white, yellow, and red cables! You can run your HDMI cable from your computer’s HDMI port to a newer television (one that has an HDMI port).
Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology
You can connect your laptop to your TV wirelessly with this innovative technology. When you push a button, your television instantly displays what’s on your computer.
The shell is the material that encases the laptop. Besides protecting your valuable investment, today’s shells are stylish and attractive. Choose candy-apple red, sleek black, or even bamboo!
Laptop screen sizes are measured diagonally and typically measure between 12 and 17 inches. PC monitors generally range between 22 and 30 inches. Most screens are widescreen with an aspect ratio of 16 x 9—like widescreen TVs.
Memory card reader
Memory card readers let your computer quickly and conveniently read information stored on removable storage devices used by cameras and phones. There are many types of memory cards, including Secure Digital (SD, SDHC), Compact Flash (CF), MultiMedia Card (MMC), and xD-Picture Card. Some computers have a built-in card reader. External readers that you can connect through a USB port are also available.
Solid-state drive (SSD)
A solid-state hard disk drive has no moving parts, so it’s faster than the older versions. An SSD is quieter than a traditional drive and may be less prone to damage if it’s dropped or hit, so it’s a good feature for travelers and people who work on the go. Note that you can’t schedule Disk Defragmenter for an SSD.
The touch pad is a built-in substitute for a mouse on laptops. The touch pad is a flat pad located below your laptop’s keyboard that allows you to move your cursor by moving your finger across it.
We all use USB (Universal Serial Bus) ports to connect keyboards, mice, printers, scanners—you name it. The more USB ports, the more peripheral computer tools you can attach and use.
You use the VGA (video graphics array) port to connect a second display monitor or a projector to your laptop or PC. Connecting a second monitor doubles your desktop space and makes it much easier to work on multiple documents at the same time.
Many laptops and PCs have webcams built right in so that you don’t have to attach an external camera for a videoconference. If the person you’re talking with has a webcam, you can have web chats—almost like visiting in person! Set up videoconferencing with Windows Live, through Voice over Internet Protocol (Internet phone) services, also known as VoIP, or through instant messaging services.
Wireless (wireless-enabled laptop)
A wireless-enabled laptop has an internal wireless adapter that connects you to a network wirelessly. Work at your favorite Internet café, the library, or in the part of the house that’s farthest away from your budding violinist.
The wireless switch enables you to turn wireless functionality off to conserve battery life. It’s a good idea to identify this switch even if you don’t need to use it to save your battery. If you accidentally turn it off, you won’t be able to connect to the Internet wirelessly.