Multimedia is a mixture of different media -- such as text, video, audio, graphics and data -- that work together to provide you with all of the computing functions you need. To use multimedia, you rely on a team of input and output devices that are responsible for both transmitting and receiving information between you and the computer.
Your monitor is either a separate component of your computer, like with a desktop version, or is attached to your keyboard, as on a laptop. All modern monitors have full-color capability, with some offering higher degrees of clarity than others. It is on the monitor that you are able to see the different functions available for your use and manipulate them as necessary.
Your keyboard is the primary instrument of information input that tells your computer what to do next, whether you're creating a word document, building a spreadsheet or playing a game. A standard keyboard has nearly 100 keys that send messages to your hard drive the moment you press them.
Nearly all laptops now come with a small camera embedded above the screen. If you have a desktop computer, you can purchase a camera attachment that sits on top of your monitor and is connected to the hard drive through a USB cord. You can use this camera for several functions, such as recording yourself for a podcast or speaking with people from around the world, as most include both audio and visual components.
The mouse is a device that is manually operated and, in conjunction with commands from the keyboard, tell your computer what function you want it to perform. You use the mouse to click on icons, perform commands such as save, edit and delete, and play computer games. Each mouse has either a roller ball or a laser on the bottom that, when moved manually, allows you to move the cursor on the screen.
One of the key output devices on your computer, the printer allows you to take information that is shown on the screen and re-create it on a piece of paper. You can print charts, diagrams, papers, pictures, photos and other documents. Printers come with different cartridges and, depending on the type of document you're printing, will either use black ink or multicolored ink cartridges.
Anytime you want to listen to something or record something, your speakers are essential in completing these processes. They work as both input and output devices, translating the element of sound and recording it to use later on. The most common method for recording and saving sound is through .wav files; this standard format is recognized by virtually all computing devices. You can use speakers for listening and recording music, watching movies, playing games or speaking with people online through a telephonelike service.