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2.2.2: Input Devices and Output Devices (1 of 2)

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    Learning Objectives

    • Identify the methods by which data is entered into the system unit.
    • Identify how information (the result of processing) is displayed or stored.
    • Compare various input and output devices and determine which ones best fit a specific situation or need.

    Input Devices

    Regardless of the type of system unit that has been chosen, data still needs to be entered into the computer for processing. Unless the data source is a type of electronic sensor that checks the environment and automatically sends relevant data to the computer, the human-computer interface (HCI) most likely uses one of the following devices to enter data into the computer.


    Device Category

    Typical Peripherals

    Input devices

    • Keyboard
    • Mouse
    • Scanner
    • Digital Camera
    • Web Camera
    • PC Video Camera
    • Microphone
    • Sylus Pen
    • Touch Screen Monitor

    Within the above list of typical input devices, you will find a wide variety of configurations and choices. We will look at just one of these here—the keyboard—but much of the same information applies to deciding which mouse device to use.

    PC Keyboards: How to Decide Which Keyboard Is Best for You

    Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment or tools to help users work comfortably and reduce strains on the body that can cause injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a painful condition affecting the hands and wrists, usually associated with repetitive movements such as using a keyboard. Thus, you should ask yourself several questions when shopping for a keyboard, whether for a new desktop system or to replace the keyboard you have. Even if you are working on a laptop, you have some options, although fewer than for a desktop system.

    Here are some issues to consider:

    1. Do you want this keyboard to be wired or wireless? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each configuration? Those that connect via a cable (plugged into a USB port on the system unit) are the most cost effective, but they limit your mobility in terms of where or how close you must sit to the system unit and monitor. A wireless keyboard uses batteries and allows more flexibility in terms of distance from the system unit. Battery life should be considered when choosing a wireless keyboard.

    2. Connectivity protocols for a wireless keyboard

      1. Radio frequency (RF) keyboards can be used within about 15 feet of the system unit. The RF protocol for these wireless keyboards is similar to that used in the remote control unit for your television. You should ensure that there is no interference to the frequency used by the keyboard.

      2. Infrared (IR) keyboards require line-of-sight to the system unit. They have a smaller range of use, about 5 to 10 feet. There is less chance of interference with the signal unless the keyboard is used on a very cluttered surface.

      3. Bluetooth keyboards can be used up to 30 feet from the system unit and are less prone to interference than RF keyboards. It is advantageous to use only plug-and-play units—ones that work right out of the box—because setting up a Bluetooth device that is not plug-and-play can be somewhat challenging.

    3. The following guidelines should help you determine the best keyboard for your particular situation.

      Keyboard layout

      1. There are standard full-alphabetic keyboards, keyboards with smaller footprints that are used in laptops, and the small “thumb” keyboards found on tablet PCs and smartphones. In addition to standard keyboards, there are foldable keyboards, often used as an accessory for tablet PCs when the user finds the embedded thumb keyboard too small. Some foldable keyboards are standard size but made of a flexible plastic or silicone material that can be rolled up when not in use, and they often are waterproof. A software keyboard is not an actual physical board, but a keypad that is projected on the computer screen or an external flat surface.

      2. Consider any special purposes for which you will be using this keyboard. If you play games extensively, consider a gaming keyboard with specific and unique keys used for game commands. There are special multimedia keyboards that can be programmed for specific tasks such as remotely accessing music or video applications.

      3. If you often eat or drink near your keyboard, consider one that has been made waterproof. The feel of the keys on these keyboards is different; they are more flat and feel less like a typewriter keyboard.

      4. Internal lighting on keyboards is becoming more common, making typing or gaming in low lighting environments more convenient.

      5. Perhaps most importantly, consider a design that puts the least stress on your hands, wrists, or shoulders. There are split-style keyboards that separate groups of keys into right- and left-hand portions, angling these sections to minimize stress on the wrist. You may have to try several versions to find the one that is right for you. Finally, consider a wrist pad to help keep the wrists from resting on a desk edge, which can result in soreness and possibly carpal tunnel syndrome (7 Tips To Choosing The Perfect Computer Keyboard For You, n.d).

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    What type of input device is most commonly associated with smartphones and tablet PCs?

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    Output Devices

    Once the data has been entered into the computer and has been processed into information, it must be stored for later use or output, either in soft copy format (computer display) or hard copy format (printed).

    Device Category

    Typical Peripherals

    Output devices

    • monitor, screen, or display

    • printer

    • plotter

    • speakers

    Here we will look at two output devices: the monitor and the printer.

    How to decide which monitor is best for you

    The original computer monitors utilized cathode-ray tube (CRT) technology. These monitors are still found, but primarily on older computers. CRT monitors were heavy and required considerable desktop space. It is possible to purchase a CRT monitor today, but you will find them primarily on resale or older overstock sites. Purchase of a new desktop now comes only with the newer technology—either liquid crystal display (LCD) or light-emitting diode (LED) and Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED). We will not focus on the differences in the technology here. Rather, we will focus on the options you have when purchasing a monitor and some of the performance issues involved.

    If you are purchasing a laptop PC, your choice of monitor is restricted primarily to size of the unit because the monitor is part of the system case. If you are purchasing a desktop PC or even a monitor that you will link to your laptop, there are some choices beyond size that are available to you. The size of a monitor display is the diagonal measurement from one corner to its opposite. The actual screen display might be a bit less than that, however. Here are some things to consider:

    1. LCD vs. LED monitors. Both types of monitors use backlight to produce the image. LCD monitors use fluorescent light. LED and OLED monitors, which use light-emitting diodes, are considered an advancement over LCD technology.

      • LED monitors have better picture sharpness and brightness, and the colors are more realistic. LED monitors light-emitting similar to small light bulbs. OLED are light-emitting dioxides across surfaces when supplied by a current. (LED LCD vs. OLED: TV Display Technologies Compared

      • LED monitors are capable of being sleeker and lighter.

      • LED monitors consume 40% less power than LCD monitors.


      • LED and OLED monitors have higher price points than LCD.

    2. How much desktop space do you have? Monitors standard sizes range from 17 to 19 inches. Computer users who multi task often utilize dual monitors in use at the same time. Larger monitors are available for purchase.

    3. Consider screen resolution. Higher resolutions display sharper images.

    4. Smaller monitors typically have lower prices than a larger monitors.

    learn by doing

    Mia is equipping her first home office area. She would use a computer for communicating with friends and doing some online research. She has visited the local technology store and looked at monitors and thinks that a standard-sized monitor would be sufficient for her work. Her budget is limited, so she needs to be attentive to the cost of the system. Which type of monitor would you recommend for Mia?

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    Deciding on the best type of printer

    In addition to screen display, the most common form of output is that generated by a printer. The printer may be connected to the computer via a printer cable (in most newer printers, a USB cable) or connected wirelessly. Some printers also may directly accept a memory card from a camera. Multifunction or all-in-one printers can perform nonprinting tasks such as faxing, scanning, or copying.

    There are some factors you should consider when purchasing a printer.

    Source: 11 Factors to Consider Before Buying Your Next Printer, 2009.


    Will the printer be used primarily for documents or for photos?


    An all-in-one system can save you money as it comes with printing, photocopying, and scanning functions. These units also save desk space and reduce the amount of cabling required. Laser printers are better for printing a large number of pages frequently. The performance is better, the speed is faster, and they are more durable, but the cost may be three to four times more than an inkjet printer.

    Print quality

    A sharper image is generally produced by a laser printer. Most inkjet printers produce documents that are good enough for most business purposes. If you have a lower budget to start with, select an inkjet printer. But also check out the next item on the running cost of ink, as this must be factored into the cost of having an inkjet printer versus a laser printer.

    Ink cartridges and toner cartridges

    The cost of the inks or toners used in printers must be factored into the cost of using one. You can compare the relative costs of ink cartridges over toner cartridges by dividing the cost of the cartridge by the number of pages that can be printed by each.

    Printing reliability

    Perform comparison research into models to select one that has among the best reliability rating within your price range. It would be extremely frustrating to have the printer fail or need major repair after a short time of use.

    Operating system

    Are you using a Mac OS machine? Check whether all the printer functions can be used by your operating system.

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    Which of the following statements best describes output?

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    1. 7 Tips To Choosing The Perfect Computer Keyboard For You. (n.d). Retrieved January May 11, 2019, from Life123: -the-perfect-computer-keyboard-for-you.

    2.2.2: Input Devices and Output Devices (1 of 2) is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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