Definition of computer output devices

As the PC has evolved, so have the types and sizes of input and output devices. Initially the only computer output device was the monitor, then came speakers, printers, external recording and storage devices, headphones, and the list has been growing ever since. Any device that takes information such as text, audio and video files from your PC and regurgitates it to an internal or external device is considered an output device.

Definition of Output

Output in computer speak is a form of binary methodology that represents numbers and characters, such as data found on a printed page. Output can also include audio files that you hear through a speaker. Input, on the other hand is how a computer receives data. Example of input devices include a keyboard and a memory card.

Definition of Output Device

A computer output device is any mechanism capable of receiving information or data from a computer and delivering it in a text, visual or audio format. Video cards and display screens, ink jet and laser printers, large and small format plotters, sound cards and speakers, synthesizers and projectors are examples of computer output devices. Your computer manages these devices through an operating system and a feature called the "Device Manager." Changes can be made to your devices through the device manager.

Standard Output Devices

Most desktop computers sold over the past 10 years came standard with a monitor and speakers. As the market became more competitive, so did the bundled output devices. Several companies added basic printers to the package as an incentive to buy. As the PC evolved, additional output devices have come to market, such as external hard drives, jump drives or thumb drives, rewritable drives and projectors.

Value-Added Devices

Today, PCs and laptops come standard with numerous input, output, storage, pointing and peripheral devices as part of a bundled hardware package. One such input/output device is an electronic card reader that reads and writes to cards that are commonly used in numerous devices such as cameras, MP3 players and cellphones.


Connecting all of these output devices can sometimes be a headache, particularly if your computer or laptop has limited connectivity. A device bay is where you connect your devices. Most output devices use a USB connection, which stands for Universal Serial Bus. Another type of connectivity is called a FireWire or IEEE 1394 port or connection.

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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Valerie Liles has been writing about landscape and garden design since 1980. As a registered respiratory therapist, she also has experience in family health, nutrition and pediatric and adult asthma managment. Liles holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University and a Master of Science in technical communication from the University of Colorado.