What Are the Different Types of Input Devices?

By Steve Johnson

When most people think of computer hardware, first the monitor -- a common output device -- will come to mind and then usually a processor. Input devices remain under-appreciated, even though they are responsible for the commands we put into the computer. There's a variety of input devices, some of which perform simple actions, while others are more complex.


The most used input device -- at least for the majority of computer users -- is the keyboard. The versatile keyboard allows input in the form of text, which is most heavily used in writing; however, it can serve as an alternate to the mouse, and can also perform many special commands, including "print screen," "screen resolution," and "volume." Although many keyboards have advanced options, most are still based on a century-old design, known as the "QWERTY" keyboard.


Like the telephone, computers can transmit voice transmissions to other people, even if they are across the globe. This is especially common through online video-chat systems, such as Skype. Microphones are the secret to audio input. Other than voice transmission, computer software can perform a variety of actions with microphone input, such as voice alteration and recording.

Pointer Controllers

Although the keyboard might be more versatile, the mouse is a simple, easy-to-use workhorse. The mouse comes in a few forms, from traditional wire mice, which use a "rolling-ball" and guide the onscreen pointer, to newer, laser-guided wireless mice. Many laptops come with a small touchpad that guides the mouse pointer. Many newer touchscreen laptops are also available, including the iPad. The touchscreen takes the place of a mouse, and many touchscreens also can be utilized as a virtual keyboard as well.

Other Input Devices

There are a variety of other types of input devices. One is the scanner, which performs exactly opposite of the printer. It scans external images, creating a digital representation. This image can then be sent electronically, altered, and even printed. Another is the video camera, which can take videos and still pictures as well. Digital video cameras can also be connected to a computer to transfer data. Another input device is the gamepad, which is a controller used in gaming consoles where a player presses buttons to control an avatar in a game. It contains directional buttons to move a character and a set of action buttons that corresponds to specific actions.