Computers are powerful machines capable of performing complex tasks in seconds that would take a person hours, or even days, to complete independently. However, to leverage the computer’s full power, a peripheral can be used to do everything from extending storage space to capturing high-quality audio or video footage.
Every day, we’re surrounded by computer peripherals. Countless millions of people use printers, scanners, and removable storage devices like thumb drives. Knowing what these devices are and what they are used for is a subject every person living in the modern world needs to be acquainted with.
Printers and Scanners
Often combined into one device, printers and scanners are common peripherals in office settings.
Printers are useful for outputting data into some physical form. An example might be outputting a digital document onto paper or transferring a digital photo onto a physical medium placed into a picture frame. Some advanced printers can even print images or words onto things like canvas or clothing. Some can even create 3D objects.
Scanners, on the other hand, do the opposite of a printer. These devices read physical media, like paper documents or photographs, and send it to the computer in a digital form. Scanners can range in sophistication from only being able to reproduce visual appearances of a sheet of paper to be able t words for use in word processing software, even being able to produce high-quality images from something as small as a microscope slide.
Audio devices can be split into two groups: input and output. Regarding input audio devices, the most common is the microphone. Microphones can be as simple as a plug-and-play USB device or as complicated as a high-quality studio microphone requiring additional hardware to interface with the computer properly.
On the other hand, output devices typically consist of speakers or headphones. Devices like these are useful for listening to music and any other type of audio. Speakers and headphones usually plug into some “audio out” jack in the computer or via USB and are almost universally supported by all computers.
Storage devices easily transport data digitally from one computer to another. These devices can range from large drives the size of your hand to something small enough to put on a key ring. In today’s technology is not uncommon to see these devices’ storage space in the gigabyte or terabyte range.
While computer monitors are not technically considered peripherals because they are integral to the computer’s operation, there are other video devices to consider. The camera, or webcam, is one such device. Cameras work similarly to a scanner, except that they capture video footage rather than a static image. These devices can capture footage in a range of quality, reaching up to 4k. The quality and necessity of these can be vital to a project to ensure the security of peripherals, keep them with you, or use tethering devices to deter theft.