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External Computer Hardware

External Computer Hardware

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

Identify the major external hardware components and their functions.

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Tutorial

what's covered
When you are working with a computer, whether you are at home, school or work, you should be able to identify all of its key external components. It is also important that you have an understanding of what each external component’s function is. In this tutorial we will cover the components commonly found on the outside of a computer system.

Our discussion breaks down as follows:

  1. Outside of the PC (System Unit)
  2. Peripheral Devices

1. Outside of the PC (System Unit)

Although there are many different types of computers available, on a typical computer you will always find several components. The common exterior components are: buttons, CD/DVD-ROM drive, vents, ports, and status lights.

Buttons
Every computer, regardless of type, will have some way in which to turn the system on. The power button on a computer is what turns it on. Depending on the computer type, you may also see buttons that adjust sound and screen settings, as well as a button to restart the computer. You may also see a button allowing a user to eject a disk.

CD/DVD-ROM Drive
Many computers will have a minimum of one drive that can be used to insert, remove, or write (burn) CDs or DVDs. Some netbooks, such as Apple’s Macbook Air, do not provide users with an installed CD/DVD drive.

term to know
CD/DVD-ROM Drive
Drive bay used to insert CDs and DVDs.

CD/DVD-ROM Drive
CD/DVD-ROM Drive

Vents
As a computer is being used, it is generating heat. To dissipate the heat generated, most computers will contain a fan and at least one externally located vent that cools down the electronic components of the computer.

term to know
Vent
Provides external area for internally generated heat to be dissipated.

Ports
Computers provide ports for users to plug in cables and peripheral devices. The types of ports available depend on the age and type of the computer. Most ports are located on the back or front of a desktop PC, and on the side of a notebook PC. Typical ports include USB (keyboard, mouse, external drive), serial port, HDMI (monitor), modem or phone port, LAN or network port, and LPT port (printer).

term to know
Ports
Areas into which device cables can be connected to the system unit.

USB port
USB port

Status Lights
Many computers will provide a status light(s) to let the user know that the computer is powered on. Some computers will provide indicator lights to let a user know that information is being written to a disk or incoming audio is clipping.

term to know
Status Lights
Provide user with feedback as to the current operation of the system.

Watch: Outside of the PC

Video Transcription

Download PDF

There are several external hardware components that are found on many personal computers. Among the most basic of these components are buttons and status lights. Every computer must have a way to be turned on, and this is commonly done by pressing a button on the outside of the device.

Other buttons, which are usually located on peripherals, such as monitors and keyboards, can adjust the volume, screen brightness, or control media players with pause, play, and skip functions. Many computers, especially laptops and desktops, have status lights to indicate certain modes or states of the device, even if only to let us know it is turned on. Other status lights might indicate the computer is in sleep or safety mode, if the volume is muted, or if a certain drive is being access to store or retrieve data.

Other common external hardware include CD/DVD drives and ports. A CD/DVD drive is used to retrieve and store data from CDs or DVDs. Some devices include a disk bay that can be pulled out and pushed back in, while others only allowed disks to be fed into the drive, and require users to press a button to eject the disk. Ports allow users to plug-in cables or other peripheral devices such as, a keyboard, mouse, or monitor.

One such port is a USB port, which can be used to connect a digital camera, external hard drives, or flash drives. Other ports include HDMI for monitors, modem, phone, or network ports for internet connectivity, and a LPT, Line Print Terminal, for printers.

Finally, vents are important for maintaining your computer's temperature. With all the internal components of a computer hard at work, computers can easily overheat. Most computers have a fan and at least one external vent that allows heat to escape and preventing electronic components from damage due to excessive heat.

2. Peripheral Devices

A peripheral device is a system-related device that is not a native part of the computer system. Peripheral devices are typically connected to the system via a port. Peripherals can be categorized as input, output, or storage devices. Depending on the type of computer, some common peripheral devices are keyboards, pointing devices, scanners, digital cameras, monitors, and printers.

Keyboard
All personal computers need components that allow the user to input data. Keyboards help the user enter text or numbers as input for documents or files. Keyboards are available in different sizes. Some keyboards are designed for ergonomics while others are designed to be small.

term to know
Keyboard
Device that provides text and/or numeric input into a computer system.

Pointing Device
A pointing device is an input device that moves an on-screen pointer and gives users the ability to click to initialize applications or open files. The most common type of pointing device is a mouse. Users move the mouse across a flat surface and press a button to click. Another type of pointing device is a touchpad. A touchpad is a touch-sensitive pad that is built into a notebook computer and is designed to behave like a mouse.

terms to know
Pointing Device
Device that moves an on-screen pointer and provides buttons for input.
Mouse
A device that can be moved across a flat surface to move an on-screen pointer.
Touchpad
Touch-sensitive pad that behaves like a mouse and is built into laptop computers.

Scanner
Scanners allow users to input documents into a computer, either as images or as text. Most scanners have flat surfaces on which users place documents to be scanned. However, some scanners feed documents one page at a time. Most scanners utilize the USB interface.

term to know
Scanner
Input device that allows users to input documents as images or text.

Document scanner
Document scanner

Digital Camera
A digital camera is a device that captures a picture and converts it into digital information. Most digital cameras provide a local storage option until the picture can be transferred to a computer. Typically, a digital camera connects to a computer using the USB interface.

term to know
Digital Camera
Input device that captures a picture and converts it to digital information.

Monitor
A monitor is a device used to display video, images, or text. With a laptop computer, the monitor is built-in. With a desktop computer, the monitor comes as a separate component connected to the system unit via cable (typically VGA). Most monitors are used only for output, but some, such as touchscreen monitors, can be used for both input and output.

term to know
Monitor
Output device used to display video, images, and text.

Printer
A printer is an output device that generates a hard copy of work created on a computer. All printers do the same basic thing: they print an image on a page. A printer's resolution, cost, speed, and overall ability vary.

term to know
Printer
Output device that generates a hard copy of work created on a computer.

Watch: Peripheral Devices

Video Transcription

Download PDF

Peripheral devices are devices that are not native to the computer itself. They do not come installed or attached to the computer but connect to the device, typically through a pot such as a USB. Some peripherals are input devices, which allow the user to send data to the computer. Some peripherals are output devices, which allow the computer to output data to the user. And some peripherals can perform both input and output functions.

The most basic input devices include the keyboard and mouse. These peripherals provide the user with the ability to input data. A keyboard allows us to type words and characters and a mouse allows us to click on icons and files, although laptops have these input devices already built into them with the keyboard attached directly to the computer and a touchpad that responds to your fingers and behaves like a mouse.

Other common input devices include the scanner and digital camera. Scanners allow users to input images and text onto your computer by scanning documents. Digital cameras contain pictures that can be uploaded to your computer and can also act as local storage until you are ready to transfer the information. These peripherals are typically connected to devices through a USB port.

Without a monitor, your computer would have no way to display video, images, or text back to its users. In desktops, monitors are separate components that must be connected using a cable, while monitors in laptops are built into the machine. Most monitors are used for output. But the monitors on smartphones and tablets are typically touchscreens, which can be used for both input and output.

Lastly, a printer is an output device that prints out hard copies of documents and images from your computer. It is becoming increasingly common that printers can connect to computers wirelessly. But printers can also connect to devices from line print terminals, or LPTs, or USB ports.


summary
Computers consist of a wide array of internal and external components. In this tutorial we covered the common external components and peripheral devices utilized by a computer system.

Source: SOURCE: DERIVED FROM CHAPTER 2 OF “INFORMATION SYSTEMS FOR BUSINESS AND BEYOND” BY DAVID T. BOURGEOIS. SOME SECTIONS REMOVED FOR BREVITY. HTTPS://WWW.SAYLOR.ORG/SITE/TEXTBOOKS/INFORMATION%20SYSTEMS%20FOR%20BUSINESS%20AND%20BEYOND/TEXTBOOK.HTML; IMAGE OF CD ROM, PUBLIC DOMAIN, IMAGE OF USB PORT, CREATIVE COMMONS, HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/USB#/MEDIA/FILE:USB_HEAD_CABLE.JPG; IMAGE OF DOCUMENT SCANNER, CREATIVE COMMONS, HTTPS://EN.WIKIPEDIA.ORG/WIKI/IMAGE_SCANNER#/MEDIA/FILE:FUJITSU_SCANSNAP_FI-5100C_TRAY_OPEN.JPEG

Terms to Know
CD/DVD-ROM Drive

Drive bay used to insert CDs and DVDs.

Digital Camera

Input device that captures a picture and converts it to digital information.

Keyboard

Device that provides text and or numeric input into a computer system.

Monitor

Output device used to display video, images, and text.

Mouse

Device that can be moved across a flat surface to move an on-screen pointer.

Pointing Device

Device that moves an on-screen pointer and provides buttons for input.

Ports

Area into which device cables can be connected to the system unit.

Printer

Output device that generates a hard copy of work created on a computer.

Scanner

Input device that allows users to input documents as images or text.

Status Lights

Provide user with feedback as to the current operation with the system.

Touchpad

Touch sensitive pad that behaves like a mouse built into laptop computers.

Vent

Provides area for internally generated heat to be dissipated.