Computer Basics: 10 Examples of Output Devices

Updated on October 14, 2019
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Paul's passion for technology and digital media goes back over thirty years. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida, USA.

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What is an Output Device?

An output device is a piece of computer hardware that receives data or instructions from a computer. Essentially, the computer interacts with the output device in some way. The most common output devices are the monitor and printer, but there are many others. The key distinction between an input device and an output device is that the former sends data to the computer, whereas the latter receives data from the computer. Input and output devices that provide computers with additional functionality are also called peripheral, or auxiliary devices.

10 Examples of Output Devices

  1. Monitor
  2. Printer
  3. Audio Speakers
  4. Headphones
  5. Projector
  6. GPS
  7. Sound Card
  8. Video Card
  9. Braille Reader
  10. Plotter

I will give more detail for each of the selected output devices below.

1. Monitor

The most common output device used with computers is the monitor, which displays video images and text. A monitor essentially consists of a screen, circuitry, a power supply, buttons to adjust screen settings, and a casing that contains all of these components. The first monitors used the same technology as early televisions, relying on a cathode ray tube and fluorescent screen, but nowadays they incorporate flat panel display technology. VDT(video display terminal) and VDU(video display unit) are alternative names for monitors.

2. Printer

Printers are another common output device found in homes in offices. In computing terms, they take electronic data stored on a computer and generates a hard copy of it. Usually that means printing images and text onto paper. There are numerous different types of printer, with Inkjet and laser printers being two of the most common. Modern printers usually connect to a computer with a USB cable or via Wi-Fi.

3. Computer Speakers

Computer speakers are hardware devices that transform the signal from the computer's sound card into audio. Speakers are essential if you want a louder sound, surround sound, fuller bass, or just a better quality of audio. External computer speakers began to appear in stores in the early 1990's when computer gaming, digital music, and other forms of media became popular. Some computer speakers are wireless nowadays, connecting to the computer via Bluetooth.

4. Headphones

Also known as earphones, headphones allow you to listen to audio without disrupting other people in the vicinity. They connect via the computer line out, or to the speakers. The first headphones were invented in 1910 for U.S. Navy use. Nowadays, headphones come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, from basic earbuds to the more traditional style with padding around the earpieces and a connecting band that fits over the user's head.

5. Projector

As its name suggests, this output device "projects" computer images onto a wall or screen. Projectors are typically used for presentations, watching movies, or as a teaching aid, as they enable an entire roomful of people to see images generated by a single computer. Modern projectors usually connect to the computer via an HDMI cable or VGA.

6. GPS

GPS (Global Positioning System) uses a network of satellites to provide information, which can then be used to calculate the location of a specific device. It is often used with other digital technology, such as mapping apps. GPS can produce very accurate results, it was originally developed for the U.S. military, but following the downing of a civilian airlines flight by Soviet jets in 1983, the system was made available for commercial use.

7. Sound Card

The sound card controls the output of sound signals, enabling devices like speakers and headphones to work. The sound card is known as an expansion card, which means it can be added to the motherboard. Although a sound card is not essential to a computer's basic functionality, you need one if you wish to play games, watch movies, listen to music, and use audio and video conferencing.

8. Video Card

As with the sound card, the video card is an expansion card that slots into the motherboard. The video card processes images and video, enabling visuals to be seen on a display. Most computers have basic video and graphics capabilities built into the computer's motherboard, but for faster, more detailed graphics, a video card is required.

9. Braille Reader

A braille reader is a peripheral device that enables a blind person to read text displayed on a computer monitor. The text is sent by the computer to the device, where it translated into a braille format and made readable by pushing rounded pins up through a flat surface. Braille readers are also called braille displays and come in various sizes.

10. Plotter

A plotter is a similar type of hardware device to a printer. Unlike a printer, however, plotters use writing tools, such as pen, pencil, marker, to draw lines. Designed to use vector graphics, plotters were once commonly employed for computer-aided design, but have now been largely replaced by wide-format printers.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Paul Goodman

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