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What is an output device?

Output devices are those devices that convert information coming from a computer, into some form perceptible by a human. Output devices are peripheral hardware devices that are either wired or wireless. The term ‘output device’ is an all-encompassing one that covers various hardware units that can be linked with your computer in order to perform a specific function, ranging from a Bluetooth headset to monitors, speakers, scanners, and printers.

Outputs have to be presented in ways that take into account the needs of disabled users. Disabilities such as blindness, partial-sight, color-blindness, and hearing impairment involve a substantial number of people.

Because there are so many different kinds of output devices, the output data varies greatly. Even though they may seem wildly different in function, we can class devices from a mouse to external monitors to speakers as output devices. This is because they all share that core principle of taking data from a PC and converting it into another form. Today we will introduce the most common forms of output devices, visual, and sound.


A display device is the most common form of visual output device. It presents output visually on a computer screen. The key design considerations are that the information displayed be legible and that it be easy for a user to locate and process. Poor lighting, eye fatigue, screen flicker, and the quality of the displayed characters can all have a detrimental effect on visual output. Three important aspects relating to a user's needs in terms of the visual display are physical aspects of perception (for example, brightness, color combination, and the selection of colors with regard to color-blindness); the way the information is displayed (for example, the size of the text, the order of items on a menu and the way icons are designed) and the way the information is used. Suitable contrast between characters and their background is important. Research suggests that dark characters on a light background produce the optimum contrast. Resolution and flicker are other important factors that are determined by the technical design of the display.

Sound equipment

Units of audio hardware are among the most common output devices. They translate data into sound, these normally take the form of internal or external speakers. Different kinds of sound include speech, musical sounds, and natural sounds. Although the speakers that are fitted into many laptops, phones, or tablets won't require a lot of configuration, external audio devices do require some setting up, either by running cables between the PC and the hardware or through wireless technology such as Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. The key functions of audio output devices are not only to playback audio tied with sound and video files but to express any notifications that arise in the day-to-day running of the operating system and software. The use of sound at the interface is also for alerting and feedback purposes.

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Other output devices

Alternative output devices may include physical devices that create something tangible such as scanners, and printers, and the ones that generate a kind of physical motion, such as in a connected gadget or robot - or even braille readers. These readers help the visually impaired to use computers by translating on-screen text to braille via raising and lowering a series of pins.

What is the difference between input and output devices?

The main difference between an input and output device is that the input device transfers data to the computer, whereas the output receives data from the computer. For example, the content is fed into the computer through an input device called a keyboard, and one can read it on an output device called a monitor.

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