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I/O Ports

I/O Ports



PCMCIA stands for Personal Computer Memory Card International Association. It was one of the original methods for adding more memory to laptops. These three types of cards are all the same length but have different widths. PCMCIA cards can be used to add networking capabilities, ROM or RAM, modem capabilities or just more storage space. Each type of card fits into a particular type of PCMCIA slot and they are not interchangeable although Type III can hold one Type III card or a combination of Type I or Type II. Table 1.3 shows the card type, thickness and the possible uses for each type of PCMCIA card. NOTE - Compact Flash cards can be used in PCMCIA ports and in order to use them you will need an a PC card adapter.

RJ-45 (Ethernet)

The RJ-45 Ethernet port enables you to connect to wired networks to share computer resources or Internet connections. Some laptop models will have 100Base-T (Fast Ethernet) ports and newer laptops have Gigabit Ethernet which has a much faster transfer rate.


S-Video stands for Super-Video and is another method for transferring video signals. S-Video ports are found most often on desktop replacement models and media laptops. This lets you connect your laptop to a television to view your creations on a bigger screen or transfer movies and television shows to your laptop.


USB means Universal Serial Bus. You can attach just about any kind of peripheral to your laptop with USB. USB has replaced serial and parallel ports on laptops. It provides a faster transfer rate and it is possible to connect up to 127 devices on one USB port. Lower priced laptops generally have two USB ports and higher priced models can have 4 - 6 ports. USB devices draw their power from the USB connection and do not draw very much power so they won't drain your battery. Devices which do draw more power will come with their own AC/DC adapters. To connecti with USB plug in the gadget and the system should recognize it. If your system doesn't already have a driver installed for that device you are prompted for the driver.

VGA Monitor Port

The VGA monitor port enables you to connect an external monitor to your laptop. You can use the external monitor on its own (handy when you have an ultraportable laptop with a 13.3" display). As monitor prices come down, many laptop owners invest in a large screen display and use their laptop with the external large display. Laptop operating systems (Mac and Windows) support the use of multiple monitors and it easy to set up. There are also hardware solutions such as the Matrox DualHead2Go and TripleHead2Go which allow you to add either 2 or 3 external monitors to your laptop. Working with an additional monitor or two can make work much less tedious and working with multi-media much more enjoyable.


Find models that have an external switch to turn Wi-Fi on and off. If you aren't working and don't need a wireless connection you do not need to have the wireless turned on. It will merely drain your battery faster and potentially leave you open to unwanted access.

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