"After I have gotten my head around all of the different uses for the RPI" Yes this is a problem I have too, what to do first and what to spend time on. Hours can be lost with it! It can also help to have more than one card so you can switch it's OS easily.
For media, a good starting point is using one of the XBMC based distros, since a lot of these have everything running quite well out of the box. It will give you a good overview of what it can do in that area without too much fuss.
There has been a lot of talk from day one about using laptop screens and various LCDs, often though it comes down to available controllers. Basically, it isn't easy unless you can find something which converts the hdmi signal into the right one for your particular screen. The display connector is yet to be supported by the foundation, and it is likely it will support specific displays only.
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