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Inside Windows 7

After years of sitting on the fence I at last took the plunge over the holidays and ordered a new laptop. Throwing out all of my rules and my budget, I decided to purchase a refurbished HP media laptop - something I swore I would never do, considering all the new features I wanted.

The main reason I changed my mind was price. For $800 I got a 17-inch laptop with a 500 GB hard drive, a Blu-ray player/DVD burner with an HDMI-out port, 4 GB of RAM, and an AMD Turion X2 Dual Core processor at 2.2 GHz (64-bit). The video card is not the best, but it was designed for media applications like watching HD movies rather than rendering 3D at 60 frames per second.

The drawback of buying refurbished is the case, which arrived with a few small dings. However, the screen appears to have been replaced, the media buttons work and the keyboard is flawless. HP also sent a brand-new battery. A year ago this computer would have sold for over $2,000.

It also came with a free upgrade to Windows 7, which has impressed me so far. It's fast to load and not nearly as annoying as Vista where you'd spend the first 10 minutes after booting it up answering prompts to update your software. There's some set-up in the beginning, but after a while most updates will take place in the background.

I'm still finding my way around. The Taskbar, which is like Apple's Dock, is pretty good although it lacks the ability to pin specific folders like Apple's solution.

But the one feature that I think I'll find most useful is Libraries, where you can add multiple folders in multiple locations to a central Library. It's essentially an index feature - the files themselves don't move and can be easily found the usual ways, but the Library features makes everything easier to find, organize and reorganize into different folders.

For example, say you have a bunch of different photo folders and wanted to create one folder of the best of those photos to upload to your Facebook page - just add those folders to a custom library (there are libraries for documents, music, videos, etc. but you can still set up your own custom folders), so you'll be able to view all your photos in one place.

Libraries is only one feature among dozens offered by Windows 7, but it's a good one. I don't have much information on my new laptop yet to index, but that will change and when it does, I want to be organized.