Output device

In computing, an output device is a piece of computer hardware equipment that uses received data and commands from an information processing system (such as a computer or information appliance) in order to perform a task. This leads to the results of data processing carried out by the information processing system which converts the electronically generated information into human-readable form.[1][2]

Display devices

A display device is an output device that visually conveys text, graphics, and video information. Information shown on a display device is called soft copy because the information exists electronically and is displayed for a temporary period of time. Display devices include CRT monitors, LCD monitors and displays, gas plasma monitors, and televisions.[3]


There are many input and output devices such as multifunction printers and computer-based navigation systems that are used for specialized or unique applications.[1] In computing, input/output refers to the communication between an information processing system and the outside world. Inputs are the signals or data received by the system, and outputs are the signals or data sent from it together. Other common output devices include headphones, GPS, 3D printers, projectors, video cards, and sound cards.

Types of output

Some types of output are text, graphics, tactile,[4] audio, and video. Text consists of characters that are used to create words, sentences, and paragraphs. Graphics are digital representations of nontext information such as drawings, charts, photographs, and animation . Tactile output such as raised line drawings may be useful for some individuals who are blind. Audio is music, speech, or any other sound. Video consists of images played back at speeds to provide the appearance of full motion.[3]

Graphics (visual)

A digital image is a numeric representation of an image stored on a computer. They don't have any physical size until they are displayed on a screen or printed on paper. Until that point, they are just a collection of numbers on the computer's hard drive that describe the individual elements of a picture and how they are arranged.[5] Some computers come with built-in graphics capability. Others need a device, called a graphics card or graphics adapter board, that has to be added.[6] Unless a computer has graphics capability built into the motherboard, that translation takes place on the graphics card.[7] Depending on whether the image resolution is fixed, it may be of vector or raster type. Without qualifications, the term "digital image" usually refers to raster images also called bitmap images. Raster images that are composed of pixels and is suited for photo-realistic images. Vector images which are composed of lines and co-ordinates rather than dots and is more suited to line art, graphs or fonts.[5] To make a 3-D image, the graphics card first creates a wire frame out of straight lines. Then, it rasterizes the image (fills in the remaining pixels). It also adds lighting, texture and color.[7]


Haptic technology is a tactile feedback technology which takes advantage of the sense of touch by applying forces, vibrations, or motions to the user.[8] Several printers and wax jet printers have the capability of producing raised line drawings. There are also handheld devices that use an array of vibrating pins to present a tactile outline of the characters or text under the viewing window of the device.[4]


A computer's audio output comes from its speakers. Speakers are either built-in (such as in a laptop) or connected via AC adapter and USB port. With the recent rise in bluetooth popularity, computer users also have a cord-free option by connecting via bluetooth.

Speech output software systems can be used to read screen text to computer users. Special software programs called screen readers attempt to identify and interpret what is being displayed on the screen[9] and speech synthesizers convert data to vocalized sounds or text.[6] Also it is used to produce music, speech or other sounds.


See Digital scent technology.


These examples of output devices also include input/output devices.[10][11] Printers and visual displays are the most common type of output device for interfacing to people, but voice is becoming increasingly available.[12]


  1. 1 2 "Data Processing Concept" (PDF). The National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS). pp. 24–37. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  2. "output device Definition from PC Mag". Encyclopedia. The Computer Language Company Inc. PCMag.com. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  3. 1 2 Lemley, Linda. "Chapter 6: Output". Discovering Computers. University of West Florida. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  4. 1 2 "Accommodations For Vision Disabilities". Energy.gov. Office of the Chief information Officer. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  5. 1 2 "Understanding digital images". Using digital images in teaching and learning. University of Reading. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  6. 1 2 Fay-Wolfe, Victor. "How Computers Work: Input and Output". University of Rhode Island.
  7. 1 2 Jeff Tyson and Tracy V. Wilson. "How Graphics Cards Work". Hardware Basics. HowStuffWorks, Inc. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  8. Robles De-La-Torre, Gabriel. "What is "Haptics"?". Haptic Technology: an animated explanation. International Society for Haptics. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  9. Burgstahler, Sheryl. "Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology". DO-IT. University of Washington. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  10. "Input devices, processing and output devices". GCSE Bitesize. BBC. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  11. Kim, Daeryong. "Hardware Output Devices". Fundamental Microcomputer Information Technology. The University of Mississippi. Retrieved 2 June 2012.
  12. "Search Results - Oxford Reference - output device". A Dictionary of Computing. Oxford University Press. 2008. Retrieved 3 June 2012.

See also

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