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With the release of Doom 3, the long-anticipated program that Computer Gaming Worldcalls “one of the best games of 2004,” video gamers have been enhancing their computers to allow the full effect of the action thriller. The recommended hardware configuration for Doom 3 is a Pentium 4, 2 Ghz processor with memory at 512 MB RAM and a 128 MB videocard. But what do computer gamers and lawyers (assuming they are not one in the same) have in common? Lawyers who need to use visual representations for client pitches or courtroom presentations would best be served by emulating gamers by having a high-end graphics card, monitor and sound system, along with a large amount of memory. Graphics All computers come with a graphics card, which is usually sufficient for most applications. Most PCs these days have the card built in to the motherboard, while some others have it as a separate card. But to get the full video effect, replacing this card with a standalone version is essential. One of the top-of-the-line cards is the Nvidia GeForce 6800 GT, at a cost of around $500. However, not everyone will be able to use this on his or her PC, and while it is the current high-end for gamers, lawyers may have some other options. One of those is the ATI Radeon 9800 series of adapters, which run in the $350 range. Now in its third generation, this series of graphics cards provides advanced 3-D visuals and DVD-quality video Alternatives to the ATI line of adapters are the Matrox Millennium P750, which is outstanding for architecture and digital video presentations, or the 3Dlabs Oxygen GVX210, for delivery of high-end geometry and rasterization graphics acceleration. Both of these models will run about $250. Display The best graphics card is only going to waste if you are using a standard-issue monitor with your PC, so investment in a high-end plasma display is important for you and your audience. When it comes to monitors, size is important. If you are creating a visual display, a 19-inch monitor is the minimally necessary size. NEC, Samsung and ViewSonic all make some outstanding screens in this range. One of the nicest is the ViewSonic VP191b, which for $725 will give you HDTV quality – perfect for high-density graphics and mixed-media data. Alternatives include NEC AccuSync LCD9V 19-inch active-matrix LCD, a “budget”-priced model at $625, or the Samsung SyncMaster 910V, and available for less than $600. But to make a presentation to a large group of individuals, in either a boardroom or a courtroom, a projector is necessary. The NEC WT600 offers a unique shadowless technology. A very short “throwing distance” allows a presenter to stand in any position without blocking light from the screen, thus no shadows are created and each viewer sees the same presentation with the same quality. This technology isn’t inexpensive, however, as the WT600 goes for about $5,000 and weighs 13 pounds. A less expensive and lighter alternative would be the HP Digital Projector SB 21, running about $1,500 or the ViewSonic PJ501 – LCD projector, at a cost of $1,200. Sound Just like video cards, sound cards are essential for a full-dimensional audio-video presentation. While most computers come with a standard sound card, a separate model will enhance the experience. The Creative Sound Blaster PCI 128 sound card at a cost of $320 will provide a four-speaker output for full 3-D sound, great for gaming or accident-reconstruction videos. A less expensive model is the Creative Sound Blaster(r) Audigy(r) 2 ZS or the Ultimate Edge Sound Card PSC724, both of which run around $99. Of course, speakers are vital as well. The top-of-the line here would be Cambridge SoundWorks MegaWorks 215 Amplified Multimedia/Computer Speaker System, which brings near-audiophile sound to your PC. A less expensive alternative would be either the Cambridge SoundWorks FourPointSurround FPS2000 Amplified Multimedia/Computer Speaker System, or the Phillips MMS460 Surround Sound Speakers, both of which run around $99. Memory And lest we forget, none of the games or applications will run properly without sufficient memory in the PC in the first place. Fortunately, memory is the least expensive component. Most current PCs come with 256 MB RAM, but that should be upgraded to at least 512 MB, or if possible, 1 GB. Simpletech, Crucial and Kingston are among the leading brands for memory, with a 512 MB module running in the $125 range and a 256 MB module costing $75.You will need to check your machine first, however, to see if there are any more slots available. To install the cards or memory, open your computer and place the card into the available slot. The component will only fit in one slot, so you can’t accidentally put it in the wrong place. An installation disk will come with the card so that the appropriate drivers will be utilized. BRIAN R. HARRIS is the database administrator for the American Lawyer Media-Pennsylvania division and the former editor-in-chief ofThe Legal Intelligencer . Harris can be contacted at [email protected].

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