Entertainment has never been as accessible and personal as it is today. For technology has ensured that you dictate how your entertainment needs are met, wherever you go.

From the days of the 24-pound and five-inch screen Osborne 1s, laptops have come a long way as integral elements in your life and as entertainment centers.

Put simply, an entertainment laptop offers specialised audio and video features that enable it to serve as a mobile DVD player, MP3 jukebox, and digital photo album.

Television, digital video recorder, dedicated gaming console, road companion, recording suite? The laptop can be configured to be all these and more.

Entertainment laptops are perfect for people who want to access their audio tracks, home movies, digital photos, DVDs, and more on a compact, transportable system.

Usually weighing 10 pounds or more and featuring battery runtimes under two hours, entertainment laptops aren't for road warriors. But if you're going for a short break, an entertainment laptop can't be beaten.

The era of the entertainment laptop, one that sees constant innovation, has led to a distinct niche market. Take DJ's, for instance, far away from the studio, thanks to software such as Final Scratch, Traktor and Serato, they are able to travel with their laptops and organise their lives and art with them.

Add to that a laptop that sustains high-end 5.1 surround, and you have the perfect mobile studio. A case in point is laptopbattle.org, a battle of DJ's much in the tradition of rock band battles, rapping contests and poetry slams, that staged the Mid-Atlantic Laptop Battle.

The same is the case with professional musicians, with a plethora of software which, if well supported by the laptop, could be the mixing platform heaven.

A laptop can be a portable and versatile entertainment machine, for you can play games, watch DVDs, listen to music and children can even do homework in transit.

The advantage, as compared to a DVD system installed inside the car? It isn't always there. You can put it away, for some quality talk time. Plus, its a great way to entertain children when travelling with educational games, movies and maps.

Exciting configurations, funky colours, easy access keyboards, they're all part of the total entertainment centre laptop. As seen in the Toshiba Red Transformer laptop, with its 17-inch flat screen that easily transforms from the utility of a laptop computer to the fun of a flat screen home entertainment centre.

The designers recognised the need to lose the computer-like personality that distracts from a clean entertainment experience.

A long overdue and ingenious creation, the fiery red enamel coating alluded to the power of the machine resting inside and the casing exhibits a very simple, strong geometry.

When opened, the continuous silver front does not distract from the media experience, while its high-grade finish leaves an impression of quality and high-tech resolution.

A unique sliding hinge attached to the back of the screen transforms the computer into entertainment mode by pushing the screen to the forefront. The screen rests on the integrated speaker panel, while a removable remote control and keyboard allow the computer to be controlled from afar.

So what can you expect in an entertainment laptop?
Large hard drives for sure, 80GB to 100GB capacities are standard in this class of laptop, as are hard drives that spins at 5,400 RPM or faster because some entertainment notebooks have the ability to record TV programmes with TiVo-like convenience.

And impressive 16-or-17-inch widescreen displays, boasting widescreen aspect ratios of 16:10. Of course, a DVD burner with double-layer support that lets you write four hours of video instead of the standard two hours you can get onto a single-layer disc, memory card slots and a FireWire port for inputting video from a digital camcorder are omnipresent.

Entertainment laptops also tend to offer flash memory card readers, providing the ideal way to get photos off your digital camera and onto the laptop.

Thanks to fast processors, these systems play DVD movies without hesitation, recording DVD-quality MPEG-2 video in real time.

Touching up digital photos, and editing video footage requires an Athlon 64 3000+, 3-GHz Pentium 4, or 2-GHz Pentium M or faster processor. 512MB is the minimum amount of DDR memory these laptops need to keep that speedy processor fed with a steady supply of data.

For gaming, this laptop should offer an ATI Mobility Radeon or Nvidia GeForce Go graphics processor with at least 64MB of video RAM.

The release of high-end mobile Graphics Processor Units (GPUs) has made it possible to get high-quality graphics performance that is close to the quality of desktop graphics performance, while soundcards such as the Indigo by Echo will ensure true 24 bit, 96kHz audio, with high quality digital to analog converters and a Motorola DSP.

And which are the essential players in the market for an ultimate mobile entertainment experience? Take the Toshiba Qosmio G35, touted as the ultimate four-in-one portable home entertainment centre.

Enjoy more screen, viewing angles and brilliance courtesy of the 17 inch diagonal Widescreen XGA+ Ultimate TruBrite display (1440x900), stunning visuals courtesy of the Toshiba-unique QosmioEngine and the NVIDIA GeForce Go 7300 high-performance graphics card.

And amplify your audio with Toshiba's new 1-bit digital amplifier and Harman/Kardon enhanced Bass Reflex speakers.

The Sony VAIO FE-Series is a high-tech showcase designed from the ground up to exceed expectations. The latest generation X-black LCD creates lifelike contrast between true blacks and vibrant colours.

Add to that an Intel Core processor, a new Intel PM945 chipset and the new PCI Express-based NVIDIA GeForce Go 7400 graphics engine, capable of delivering fluid 3D action and impressively realistic visual effects and you have quite a formidable piece.

A few essential laptops that are every gamers dream include the Alienware Area-51m, the brushed metal designed Asus W2U00VB and the Hypersonic Sonic Aviator GX6.

So there you are, the haves and musts of laptops that are the cream of entertainment centre territory. So take your pick, mix and match, surf, decide what you want and today's laptops shall deliver.