Types of computer output devices and their functions

Output devices are used to outputting of the information that has been processed from the computers. Like input devices, they are connected to the computer using various connectors like USB, VGA cables, wireless, etc.

The main function of the output devices is they allow users, applications, and other devices to communicate. Communication involves the display of information either in visual, sound, soft, or hard copy. These devices include monitors, printers, speakers, projectors, GPS, braille readers, text to speech converts among others.

computer output device

Output devices can be categorized into three main according to the form of output they give.

Types of computer output devices

Soft copy output devices

They produce information in soft copy form. The information can only be seen and heard but not touched.

1. Computer monitors (VDU, screen)

They produce output as a soft copy. Monitors (VDU, screen) are the main output device that produces a soft copy. They look like Television sets except that they don`t have tuning buttons.

computer monitor

Computer monitors can be divided again in terms of the technology that they use which include: Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT), Liquid Crystal Display (LCD), Plasma, and OLED screens. Most of today`s computers are using LCDs which are replacing the CRT. 

OLED technology is the future of both computer and mobile phone screens which will allow the production of screens which can even be folded. Read more on computer display here.

2. Projector

They are used to enlarge the screen output to be viewed in a larger space. Projectors are connected to the computer which projects images on a projector screen or a large surface like a wall or whiteboard. They are mostly used for presentations for a large audience. The main projectors used are LCD projectors. Read a details article on projectors.

projector for output

Hard copy output devices

The devices give out information in hard copy like a printer on a piece of paper. They convert the softcopy produced on a computer monitor into paper or other surfaces.

1. Printer

Printers are used to produce information on paper. They are electronic devices that use ink and print information sent from a computer or another device.

output printer

Printers can be classified into two main classes according to how the paper and internal printer mechanisms interact. Check more details on Printers.

2. Plotters

They are used to print graphical information on paper. Unlike the printer, the plotter use pens which enable it to write a continuous line, unlike the printer which uses dots. They print vector-type of data type.

Plotters interpret commands given by the computer to draw the lines which create the graphics. They are mostly used for drawing images created from CAD  and other graphic software. Read more on the types, uses, and advantages of plotter printers.

Audio output devices

They produce sound, music, etc by converting the digital data from the computer into sound.

1. Speaker

They are electronic devices that produce sounds. They can vary in physical size and power.

speakers audio output

2. Headphones

They are small sets of speakers mostly placed over the ears and connected to the sound card port into the computer. They are also commonly used with smartphones.

Output devices for physically challenged users

  1. Braille reader and display: this is an output device that converts normal text to braille that blind users can understand. They achieve this by raising small pin-like parts that users can touch to read.
  2. Braille embosser: This is a braille impact printer that generates braille printouts. They can be used by blind people who can input data through speech the data is then converted to braille-recognized text by use of specialized software. After conversion, it can now be printed to braille paper by the embosser.
  3. Audio amplifiers: These are sound amplifiers that are used by partially deaf people. They amplify the sound for the user.
  4. Screen magnifiers: these are software that is used to magnify the screen. Windows operating system comes with a magnifier as an accessory tool. The magnification makes it easier to visually impaired users to read content on the screen. There is also screen magnifying software for smartphones.
  5. Text-to-speech device (narrator): it is software that reads text from a computer and converts it to audio sound. Mostly these types of software can do vice versa, which is to convert the sound to text. Windows operating system uses a narrator that reads what is on the screen.

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