A laptop has a number of technical features and capabilities that you won’t generally find on a desktop computer. In this video, you’ll learn about some of these unique laptop features.
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There are a number of features that are specific to a laptop. So in this video, I’ll take you through some of the physical switches and configuration settings that you can use on your laptop computer.
Our laptop keyboards are a bit of a trade-off when you compare them to the full-size keyboards we might have on a desktop computer. This laptop keyboard is a good example of that, where we still have all of the same keys within a much smaller area. You can see there are Arrow keys. There are Home, Page Up and Page Down, and End keys. But they’re certainly not in the same format that you would find on a desktop full-size keyboard.
Even if you are able to get all of the normal keys onto this laptop keyboard, there are still a number of laptop-specific functions that you need to be able to use from this keyboard. And you can see a number of those functions are available in this lighter blue color associated with some of the keys that you might see on the keyboard. For example, you can see a volume up and volume down is associated also with the Left Arrow and Right Arrow keys. To be able to access these additional functions, you hold down the blue Function key that’s also on the keyboard while you’re pressing on those. So that gives you a way to set the volume, change the brightness settings on the LCD, or turn on and off different features that you can see on these function keys at the top of the keyboard.
Here’s a closer view of some of these. You can see the Function key at the bottom. And then you can see a number of laptop-specific features right here at the top. This is a very quick way to turn on and off your wireless or your volume settings, all with the same keys that you would normally use on your keyboard.
A useful feature built into most of our laptops is the ability to not only use the internal LCD display that’s inside of a laptop, but also connect to a video interface so that you can use an external display device. And you’re able to not only toggle between those, but use them simultaneously if you’d like to. We’re normally able to do that by using one of those function keys that enables that secondary function. And that will allow you to toggle between things like using just the laptop computer display.
We’ll be able to duplicate or mirror the same screen on the internal and the external display. We can extend our internal display and use the external display as a completely separate monitor. Or perhaps, turn off the internal display and only use the external display to show what’s on the screen. On this particular keyboard, you can see that there is an F4 key that shows both a laptop icon and an external display icon. And when you combine that with the Function key, you’re able to toggle through each of those modes.
The laptop is able to determine whether the cover is open or whether the cover is closed, because there is a switch built into the display. This switch may be a physical switch that you could see. But most laptops these days use a magnetic switch. And the magnets are built into the display itself. That way you don’t have to have anything external to the display that might be in your way. But it can still recognize when the cover is open and when the cover is closed. You’re usually able to set what functionality occurs when you close your laptop cover in the BIOS of your laptop or using specialized utility software that came with your laptop.
One useful feature on your laptop is the ability to enable and disable the wireless adapter that’s on the inside of your laptop. This way, if you’re on an airplane or you’re in a secure area, you can completely disable any radio communication. There’s usually a status light on your laptop that will tell you whether the adapter card is enabled or disabled. This can sometimes be done with a physical switch like the one you see here where, clearly, you can turn on or off the wireless setting. And you can even see the wireless symbol that’s right next to it. Or it might be one of the function keys that’s enabled on your laptop keyboard.
This may not only control your 802.11 wireless, but if you have Bluetooth or a cellular modem built into your laptop, this might also enable and disable those radios as well. Make sure you look for the Bluetooth and the wireless symbols to identify what switch or what function key setting you can use to enable and disable this feature.
Our speakers are built into the laptop. So we have to have some type of external control to determine how loud or soft the volume might be. Sometimes this is done through function keys on the keyboard. Or there might be a standalone key for not only volume up and volume down, but there may be a Mute button here as well. Sometimes there’s a physical dial or button built into the laptop. And you may be able to even see visual feedback on the screen if you have the appropriate drivers installed.
The LCD display on your laptop’s being illuminated through a backlight that’s behind the display. And depending on the environment you’re in, you may want to brighten or dim that display. There are usually function keys that will allow you to brighten and dim. On this particular keyboard, it is the Arrow Up and Arrow Down button. And you may want to consider also that using a brighter light or additional backlight may also use more power and, therefore, decrease the amount of time your battery is available. So having this function allows you to customize just how much power output will be needed by that backlight.
Many laptops might also include a backlight under the keyboard. That way if you are in a dark area, you can see exactly what the keys are, especially if you’re using function keys or secondary keys that you don’t often use. These configuration settings for the keyboard backlight might control how bright or intense that light is. You might want to set a duration so the light comes on when you use the keyboard, but it dims away after a certain amount of time. Or you can disable that function entirely.
Many laptops also allow you to enable and disable the touch pad. That way if you’re using the keyboard and you want to be assured that there’s going to be no inadvertent mouse clicks or movement of the cursor, you can turn on and off that feature. On this keyboard, you can see there’s a function, F10, where you have a small trackpad icon with the X through to designate an enable or disable toggle.
Many laptops allow us to use the display very similar to a tablet where you can flip the display around and use that as your primary input and output. If that’s the case, you may have a need to flip the display from portrait to landscape and back again. This might be done automatically. Or you might want to have more control over it by using a particular key press or button to be able to change the orientation.
On this laptop, there are a number of button controls. But you can see one here that does show a display with arrows that are rotating around it. So I can use that button to change the orientation from landscape to portrait and back again.
We’re using our laptops for an increasing amount of video and audio media. And this video is a good example of that. So there are more controls now that are built into the hardware of our laptop computers. This allows us to fast forward, or rewind, or control any of those media settings right from the keys that are built into the laptop.
You can see some of these keys in this picture, where we have Control. Here’s a Play and a Pause button. A Stop. And then we can rewind and fast forward without having to go through additional function keys or use your mouse or keyboard.
An increasing number of our laptops are becoming geographically aware of their location, because we’re building GPS functionality right into the laptop. We can, of course, enable or disable these GPS features. And it’s very similar to how we might enable or disable the other wireless settings on our laptop.
If you’re someone who uses your laptop at work and then you take your laptop home and there’s constant motion between those locations, you might want to set up docking stations on both sides. That way you’re able to simply slide the laptop into the system, and it’s then connected to all of the different peripherals that are in that particular working environment.
Some docking stations are very large. They might even have a section in the back where you can install additional adapter cards to really extend the functionality of that laptop. And of course, all of the normal power connectors, printer connections, any USB ports are all handled on the back of this docking station. So all you have to do is slide your laptop in, and it’s now connected to your keyboard, your mouse, and any other devices that you’re using in your environment.
One of the nice things about our laptops is that they are such mobile devices. But unfortunately, they can sometimes become too mobile. And they’re very easy for someone to walk by and take without your permission. If that’s the case, you may want to consider using a physical laptop lock, especially if you’re in an environment where you need to leave your laptop for any amount of time. This is usually done with a lock that connects to a reinforced interface on the laptop. And you usually wrap this around a solid object. This means that if a bad guy wanted to get your laptop, they would have to not only take the laptop, but everything the laptop is connected to.
This is a good example of what one of these locks looks like. You can see it’s a long piece of cable that’s very difficult to be able to remove. And this particular laptop lock has a combination lock. And as you can see, there are also keys that you can use for these as well.
Many of our newer laptop screens allow for additional functionality for displaying the information or for using the interface on the laptop. These rotating screens can take your laptop and turn it into an additional presentation display. Or you might use it like you would a tablet. You might have a stylus, for instance, that you can use to physically draw on the screen. And some of our laptops even include the ability to remove the keyboard completely, making your device a hybrid between a laptop computer and a tablet device.