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Laptop Ports

Explaining all those holes and sockets that surround the modern notebook.


by Joanna Stern on July 27, 2009


Replacing DVI, DisplayPort is being employed by Apple and Dell, among other laptop manufacturers. Similar to HDMI, DisplayPort allows for sending high-resolution video and audio to a high-definition television or display. While it delivers superior performance and sports a smaller connector, LCDs with DisplayPort technology tend to be expensive.



display-port_sh.jpgUsed for attaching an external hard drive, eSATA (external serial ATA) ports are found on a number of business and multimedia notebooks. While eSATA’s 3-Gbps bandwidth allows for transfer speeds more than triple that of USB (which maxes out at 480 Mbps), it cannot power your external device. The most popular type of eSATA-enabled peripheral is a portable hard drive, which should yield lightning-fast backups. These ports also accommodate USB devices.


display-port_sh.jpgEthernet (RJ-45)

For those cases where no Wi-Fi is available, this 8-wire connector port supports standard Ethernet network cables, including 10 Megabit, 100 Megabit and Gigabit.



display-port_sh.jpgReplacing the older PC Card (or PCMCIA) format, this slot is helpful for utilizing mobile broadband cards and other peripherals like TV tuners and memory card readers. ExpressCard modules come in two standard formats: the ExpressCard/34 (34 x 75mm), typical of smaller notebooks, and the standard ExpressCard/54 (54 x 75mm).


display-port_sh.jpgFireWire (IEEE 1394)

No bigger than a thumbtack, FireWire 400 ports are typically found on multimedia laptops since it is mostly used to transfer video to and from a video camera or to connect to a hard drive. FireWire 800 provides double the speed (400 Mbps vs. 800 Mbps) but is much less common; the latest Apple MacBook Pro has one.

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