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What ports and connections should I look for on a system?
While most hardware is leaning toward fewer specialized ports and connections, there are a few you'll want to look for.

USB Ports:

These ports are a must since many devices now use this interface. Make sure they are of the 2.0 variety to esure you get the best performance from the devices you connect. In addition, make sure any desktop system you purchase has both front and back ports for easy access. For laptops, look into models that have several ports or you'll need to carry around a hub for additional devices.

Firewire Port(s):

This is a digital interface that can be used for external drives or digital video cameras. Having at least one firewire port gives you the option of using one of these devices.

Wired Ethernet Jack:

If you plan to use your computer with a broadband connection, this port will get you connected easily. If you want to connect wirelessly, consider a built-in wireless adapter. However, even if you wish to use WiFi, a wired ethernet jack gives you more options.

Parallel Port:

If you already have a printer that doesn't use a USB connection, make sure your new computer can connect to it. If you do not yet own a printer, you may be able to go without this port since most new printers use USB connections.

Bluetooth Adapter:

If you own a bluetooth-enabled phone, GPS or PDA, this can provide an easy way to connect it to your system. In addition, some printers are beginning to use this interface as an option. However, there are many better ways of connecting those devices, so this is not a must-have.

Audio inputs and Outputs:

Make sure your computer offers a microphone input, headphone output and a line output (for connecting speakers). A line input can also be a good addition for running audio devices into the system.

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