I'm planing on getting a laptop. It will be my first one. I'd like to be able to treat it as a desktop most of the time - use a regular keyboard, mouse, and monitor.
My question is: How well is a regular monitor supported by Windows 7 on a laptop? The graphics card will have to support the resolution of course, but will I still have the regular power saving features? Can I close the lid on the laptop and still use it through the regular mouse, keyboard, and monitor?
Win7 has a pretty good support for dual monitors even if your video card doesn't support any advance features. Basically, if you plan to use just 1 external monitor, you will be just fine.
In regard to power saving for laptop - an external monitor is powered by it's own power supply, so this will put zero additional load on the laptop besides powering the video output jack. In most cases though, when you're using an external monitor, you'd be sitting down at a desk (no?), at which point you should be able to plug your laptop in.
In regard to whether you can close the laptop and use the peripherals. This depends on laptop + OS settings, I'm fairly confident you'd be able to set it up to work the way you want it. (I know I've done so with my Dell laptop with winXP and an HDTV).
If it doesn't quite seem to work, you can also look into a docking station. I know for sure those let you close the laptop and use it instead of a system case for all the processing while using the peripherals to interact with it.