Let’s Talk about Hardware

Posted By BrokenClaw on September 10, 2007

Hardware is the term used to describe the individual components that make up a computer, computer system, or computer network. It refers to the physical pieces of equipment, in contrast to software, which is the sets of instructions that run a computer. In general, a desktop computer system consists of the hardware in the case plus the keyboard, the mouse, and a monitor. Anything that is connected to the computer is called a peripheral device, including such things as printers, scanners, camera docks, etc.

HP desktop

The computer case is sometimes referred to as the box. It houses the working parts that make the computer run. The principle components are the power supply, the motherboard, the central processing unit (CPU), random-access memory (RAM), the hard drive, and external disc drives. The keyboard and the mouse are considered input devices, because that’s what you use to give (input) data to the computer. The monitor is considered an output device, because that’s how the computer sends (outputs) data to you. Most computer systems come with a set of stereo speakers as well.

Laptop computers are usually more expensive than desktop computers of similar components. The reason is a matter of hardware miniaturization and customization. The case of a Windows-based desktop computer is large enough to accommodate a variety of components, which are essentially interchangeable. On the other hand, laptop computers require more engineering and more expensive components that fit inside the case in a specific configuration. Compact desktops, like the Apple iMacĀ® and the Gateway OneĀ® computers, are designed in a fashion similar to a laptop.

Dell laptop

If you want to send and receive audio and video messages, you have to have a microphone and a camera. Small cameras which are designed specifically for low-resolution computer applications are called webcams, because they are designed for low bandwidth usage on the web. A webcam, microphone, and speakers are sometimes built into the monitor, for the convenience of web conferencing or video messaging.

Printers come in a wide variety of types and price ranges. An inkjet printer is sufficient for most home printing jobs, but a laser printer produces more professional-quality printing. Other printers are designed for high-quality photos. Printers are often combined with a fax machine or scanner. A scanner is most often used to convert photographs to digital format. The scanners which are incorporated into printers are suitable for copying graphics, such as a pamphlet or poster, but you’ll probably want to use a higher quality stand-along flatbed scanner if you’re making archival copies of family photographs.

In business and industry, there are many different types of computers. If fact, any device that uses a CPU can be considered to be a computer, such as the electronic controller inside automobiles, televisions, game consoles, and coffee makers.


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