you said a few odd things...
"I want to show the film on my laptop": You can't use the laptop as a monitor like a TV. I am not aware of any laptops that allow their monitor to be used as anything more than the PC monitor.
"I have the USB cable hooked up per the instructions": Connecting the USB cable is not tough to do... In those instructions you refer to, what is that USB connection supposed to be used for? It is usually in the title of the section or the first paragraph of the section.
"I can't find in the manual where it refers to transferring data that's on tape": Perhaps the section which starts on page 98, "Connecting to a computer" will help. Your laptop likely does not have a FireWire port. FireWire, IEEE1394, DV and iLink are all the same thing. Your laptop needs a PCMCIA card. You will also need a FireWire cable - they don't include it in the box. The one you get will depend on the PC card you get for your computer. How much available space do you have on your computer? Video uses LOTS of room and laptops don't normally have large hard drives. Using FireWire, you can transfer the video on the miniDV tape to to the computer for editing... if you have a video editing application. Normally, after editing, you can show the edited content on a TV by connecting it using the video out... Normally, this is a 15-pin x-VGA cable (the same on you might use when you connect to a projector - if your TV is equipped with that (most are not - mine is) - you may also be able to use an S-Video cable. Most TVs do not have a FireWire port - again, this is just for transferring data from the camera to the computer for editing...
"What are my options for showing this film on my Toshiba plasma screen? My TV only has ports for the red and white cables, non for the yellow": The red and white cables are normally right audio and left audio. If your Toshiba plasma has nowhere to plug in Yellow (video)-Red-White, what are the game console, DVD player or VHS tape player, cable box, satellite receiver, DVR connected too? If you have none of these, someone paid way too much for that plasma. My Panasonic plasma has multiple sets of analog, component and HDMI cables on the back... including connectors on the front. Maybe there are some side connectors you missed? Which model Toshiba plasma is it?
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