Be a Media Maestro

Turn your notebook into a full-throttle entertainment system.

Find Your Tunes Quickly
Windows Media Player 11 includes a much-improved search function with a look-head feature. Use it to find any of your music just by beginning to type the artist, album or song title. As you type, all the corresponding matches appear instantly. If you’re an iTunes 7.3 fan, you get the same look ahead functionality; type the first few letters of an artists name, song title or album title in the box at the top right corner of the iTunes window.

The Great Equalizer
Click on WMP11’s Now Playing button and the small Down arrow beneath it. Select Enhancements, then Graphic Equalizer, to boost the bass or soften excessively harsh treble. Or experiment with the SRS pseudo-surround sound feature and song cross-fade options (both of which are on the same menu).

Centralize Your Media Production
Sonic Solution’s Roxio Central (Free: www.roxio.com) offers the ability to burn DVDs and back up all of your huge multimedia data files. And it’s all developed with Vista’s new Windows Presentation Foundation, three-dimensional look that blows away earlier versions that had a cobbled-together feel in comparison.

Update Those Graphics Drivers
By upgrading your laptop’s graphics card drivers to the latest available, you’ll get faster frame rates and better compatibility with existing games. This is particularly true if your portable is running Vista since Nvidia and ATI are still improving their drivers on a regular basis, so check their Web sites for the latest information and downloads.

Become a Mobile Couch Potato
The Mobile Edge PC Media Remote ($59.99; www.mobileedge.com) controls iTunes, Windows Media Player and WinDVD, so you can listen to music or watch movies from anywhere in the room. Its RF adapter hides inside the remote, and you slide the whole thing into a spare PC Card slot when you’re not using it.

Wearable Surround Sound
The Turtle Beach Ear Force HPA2 headphones ($129; www.turtlebeach.com) give you killer 5.1 surround, complete with a miniature discrete sub woofer, for maximum impact when watching movies or playing games on your laptop. If you want to make your notebook the center of the onscreen action, use a 5.1/7.1 surround-sound adapter like the Turtle Beach Audio Advantage SRM ($79.95, www.turtle-beach.com), which lets you connect your laptop to a separate audio amplifier.

(Almost) Any Notebook is Game
Many laptops don’t have the discrete graphics chipsets necessary for sufficient 3D performance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play. If you have an Intel Core 2 Dual processor and at least one gig of system memory, you’ll be able to enjoy titles like:

  • World of Warcraft
  • The Sims 2
  • Microsoft Age of Empires III
  • MS Flight Simulator X Deluxe
  • MS Zoo Tycoon: Complete Collection
  • Star Wars: Empire at War
  • Deal or No Deal
  • Lego Star Wars II

Tweak Your Game Settings
Is your favorite 3D title running too sluggishly? Here are some good rules of thumb for fine-tuning your experience on Centrino-based systems according to Intel:

  1. set Distance to minimum
  2. disable Shadows
  3. enable Med/High textures for improved visual quality
  4. Set the screen resolution to a range between 800×600 pixels and 1024×768 pixels.

Krissy

A thirty-something code ninja + web diva. Former New Yorker who's passionate about web development, HTML/CSS, beautifying things and marketing.

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