Size matters — but so does the speed (of your hard drive)

HD video, high-res picture, and CD-quality digital audio files all have at least one thing in common: They take up lots of space on your computer. With that in mind, you’d think choosing a hard drive for my new laptop would be as simple as buying the biggest sucker possible. But you would be wrong.

When you’re working with video, size isn’t the only thing that matters. If you want that HD video of your cousin’s wedding to play back without a stutter, you’re going to need a hard drive that’s not only big but fast, too. If the hard drive can’t keep up with the video, bad things can happen to good quality quickly. Your audio can sound messed up and frames can drop out, making things look herky jerky. Aunt Mildred and Uncle Fred might not mind, but trust me, the bride and groom’s HD-captured memories (not to mention your bragging rights among your video literati friends) will suffer.

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How to choose a PC for video

When I decided to replace my aging three-year-old laptop with a new one, I resolved to custom-order a system optimized for video. Video is my passion. My new laptop would need to edit video, audio, and photos; burn DVDs and Blu-ray discs; and convert video files to the formats required by portable devices and Web sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Vimeo.

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Attention video hobbyists: Hold onto your hats!

Hey, all you people out there who have devoted countless hours and dollars to turning your off-the-shelf PC into a video workstation: Get ready for a new world. If you make your own videos, or if you’ve ever wanted to, or if you post video to Facebook or YouTube or any of a zillion video sharing services on the Web, be advised that a new day has dawned. Your life is about to change, and you’re going to like the difference.

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