What Is An Input Device? Definition, Functions, and Examples [Full Information]

Daisy updated on Dec 06, 2022 to Knowledge Center

Input Device Definition

In computing, an input device allows information to be entered into the computer system, either from the user or another computer. These are known as input devices or power supply devices (input)—for example, a keyboard, mouse, or microphone.

The various input devices translate the data into electrical impulses, which are then transmitted to the computer for processing and storage in central or internal memory. These devices are essential because they allow the user to use the computer and interact with it.

Input devices are distinguished from output devices, which are devices that connect to a computer and extract information.

Furthermore, some input devices are also output devices (I/O or mixed devices) because they introduce and extract information from the system. For example, a touch monitor.

Input Device Functions

The input devices of a computer are a vital part of the operation of the machine. Without input devices, there wouldn't be possible for the user to communicate with the computer, rendering it almost useless. If you want to add new information to the computer (for example, text, command, document, image, etc.), you can't do it without an input device. Modern machines can handle several different input devices in use at the same time. Most of these devices connect to the computer through a standard serial port connection or a USB connection.

Some characteristics of input devices are:

  • They allow information to be entered into the computer in different formats, such as audio, image, text, etc.
  • They translate the information provided by the user into data that is readable by the computer.
  • They are part of the computer's hardware and can be connected wirelessly or through a cable.
  • They are adapting according to the different technological developments.
  • They are essential for the user to be able to use the computer and are easy to use.

Input Device Examples

Some examples of input devices are:

  1. Keyboard: It is a board made up of keys or buttons with letters, numbers, and symbols. This device connects to the computer wirelessly or via a cable (in the case of laptops, it is built-in) and allows the user to enter information or perform functions. The most popular keyboard is the QWERTY.
  2. Mouse: It is a device that is used to enter information into the system and translates the movements that the user performs with the device into specific instructions. There are different types of mice; the most common is an oval shape and moving it moves a pointer on the screen. Laptops often come with a built-in touchpad, which is a touchpad that serves the same function as a mouse.
  3. Microphone: It is a device that captures the sound and translates it into electrical impulses that can then be encoded, stored, transmitted, and reproduced. The microphone introduces a spoken message, music, or any other type of sound to the system.
  4. Camera or Webcam: It is a device that captures an image using a system of lenses and photosensitive components and then digitizes it and transmits it to the system. These cameras can take pictures or videos that are transmitted or reproduced later.
  5. Scanner: It is a device that digitizes documents or images and inserts them into the computer. These files can then be stored, sent, or edited.
  6. Barcode reader: It is a device that can be in a pistol shape that works as an optical reader that recognizes a barcode (black lines on a white background) in which the product information is contained.
  7. Joystick: It is a device often used for video games, consisting of a lever that the user moves to execute actions on the computer. Its name comes from English: joy (fun) and sticks (bar, stick).
  8. Stylus pen: It is a pencil-shaped device that is used on tactile supports, such as monitors and screens, to enter information into the system.
  9. Graphic tablet: It is a digital flat base on which the user traces graphics and drawings that are later reflected on the computer screen.

Input Device FAQ

1. Is a webcam an input or output device?

A webcam comes with a tiny camera and it is an input device that transmits images in real-time to the computer. It's useful for making video calls, and most laptops have a built-in camera.

2. Is a printer an input device?

A printer is mainly considered an output computer device, often referred to as peripheral hardware alongside devices like scanners and mice. A monitor is likewise an input device. Like many computer hardware, it can be challenging to determine whether a printer is an input or output device.

3. Is a scanner an input or output device?

It's an input device with a light beam that detects light and dark patterns and thus converts a physical image into a digital signal and reproduces documents on the computer. The scanner allows you to digitize documents and photos and is usually part of multifunction printers.

4. Is a speaker an input or output device?

A speaker is an output device. This type of computer output device has been created to make it possible to reproduce sounds and digital audio.

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