Input devices of a computer are simply those used to bring information into the computer. They can include input devices such as keyboards, touchscreens and mice that let people enter information directly. There are also devices such as cameras, microphones and scanners that take in video or audio recordings in digital formats that computers can understand. For more specialized applications, such as science and engineering, more obscure input devices such as microscopes, sensors or telescopes may be used.
Traditional Computer Input Devices
Most modern desktops and laptops use a window-based operating system designed to be used with a keyboard and a mouse, such as Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS. Generally, a laptop comes equipped with a built-in keyboard and track pad used in lieu of a mouse, though external keyboards and mice can also be used. Some modern computers also come with a touchscreen that can be used instead of a mouse.
Various keyboard models may have different sets of keys depending on the operating system they're used with. For example, keyboards used with macOS often have a command key, while those used with Windows may have a Windows key. Keyboards can also have different shapes or even different key layouts for efficiency and ergonomics.
Computer mice can vary in shape and size for comfort reasons. They can also have a variety of buttons. Some have only one button, while others have two or three, and some have a scroll wheel used to scroll up and down on websites or in applications. One mouse may be more suitable than another for a given purpose.
Some users, particularly artists and designers, use a graphics tablet or electronic drawing pad to draw on a computer using a stylus similar to a traditional pen. These generally can also be used in place of a mouse. Avid computer gamers also sometimes buy specialized controllers for use with their PCs, similar to those input devices used on video game console systems.
Audio and Video Devices
Many modern computers come equipped with microphones and cameras that function as computer input devices, and you can also attach external microphones, cameras and scanners to capture audio and video information. These can be useful for personal or business calls and chat sessions and for playing games.
For the sake of security, some people cover their cameras and microphones when they're not in use. This makes it harder for malicious software or hackers to get access to these devices and use them to eavesdrop on people in the room.
Some computers, such as those used in industrial settings like factories or in science labs, connect to less common input devices. These could include factory equipment, scientific instruments like telescopes and microscopes, or sensors measuring things like the level of water or oxygen in a space.
- Microsoft: Keyboards, Mice and Styluses
- Microsoft: Keyboard Mappings Using a PC Keyboard on a Macintosh
- University of Southampton: The Dvorak Keyboard: What, Why and Really?
- Wacom: Discover Wacom for Drawing
- The New York Times: Mark Zuckerberg Covers His Laptop Camera. You Should Consider It, Too.
- Microscope Detective: The Hunt for the Best USB Microscope
- Global Water: Water Level Loggers
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