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Computer Input Devices: Keyboards, Mice, Audio & Video

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  • 0:05 What Is an Input Device?
  • 0:22 Keyboards
  • 2:55 Mice
  • 4:01 Audio Input
  • 4:35 Video Input
  • 6:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lori Jacobson

Lori holds an MBA. She has taught business and accounting at several community colleges.

What input devices do you use on a daily basis? We'll take a look at the common keyboard and mouse devices as well as other methods of input like audio and video.

What Is an Input Device?

Input devices are the way we're able to get data into a computer. There are several methods to input data and generically, they are keyboards, mice, audio and video. Most people just accept whatever comes with their machine, but we'll do a little shopping trip to discover what might be most useful for you.

Keyboards

A keyboard is a keyboard, right? I mean, you type on them to write a paper or enter data on a form for online shopping, so is there really anything else to think about? There can be.

We have some unique keyboards available to use: laser projected (though these are typically used for smaller devices like smart phones), foldable, create-your-own (used by gamers) or ergonomic. Keyboards can also be connected to your computer by a wire, or by using wireless technology.

Most keyboards are laid out in the QWERTY style - if you look at the top row of your keyboard, left side, you'll see Q W E R T Y. This layout evolved to actually slow the typist down. Yes, I said slow them down. Typewriters (first manual, then electric) are machines that used a striking arm to hit an inked ribbon on a piece of paper. The typists were getting so fast the typewriter arms were getting twisted up with each other. The typist had to stop, untangle the arms and then return to work. This significantly slowed down their speeds. By creating a QWERTY keyboard, the speeds balanced out, thereby increasing their overall productivity.

The standard keyboard that comes with a computer is perfectly functional. The question is in how it affects your hands and forearms. Take a second here and do a quick study with me. Push your keyboard out of the way, or out of reach. Set your hands on the work surface. Just plop them down - don't pay attention to where they are going. Now look down at them. Notice the angle your elbows are at as well as your wrists. This is an example of ergonomics, or the study of physical work habits and how they affect the muscle and skeleton of the employee. Your elbows are probably slightly away from your sides and bent at about a 45 degree angle. Your wrists are probably not bent and your fingers are pretty straight.

The ergonomic keyboard is one of many types available for consumers.
Ergonomic Keyboard Image

Now, pull the keyboard back to its normal position and place your fingers on the home row - for those of you still huntin' and peckin', the left pinky finger will be on the A with the remaining left fingers on the S, D and F. Your right index finger will be on the J, with the remaining three fingers on the K, L and semi-colon. Unless you are using a split, curved or naturals keyboard, all ergonomic in design, you will find the angles of your wrist and forearm significantly different than when you just rested them on your desk. Using an ergonomic keyboard takes a while to get used to and will temporarily reduce your typing speeds, but they are much better for you and will help to prevent carpal tunnel and other repetitive motion syndromes.

Mice, Meese, Mouses, Mices, Mouse?

Computer mice are also available in ergonomic styles, though we have a tendency to worry less about the mouse than the keyboard. They can be wired or wireless, with or without a scrolling wheel.

A mouse is used to input instructions or data by sending a signal to the computer, based on hovering the cursor and selecting with the left mouse button. The left mouse acts as a 'do this' or 'enter' button. The right mouse button can be selected and will often pop up a window of choices. The scrolling wheel is used to move the view of the screen up or down. By moving your mouse to a location in a document, on a digital photo or over a choice of music, you can click the left mouse button to place the cursor.

A standard mouse is a rounded square in physical appearance and is typically split into three regions: a left button, a right button and a top base. Some examples of ergonomics are the track ball and optical ergo. Like with an ergonomic keyboard, the more you use a mouse, the better the ergonomic mouse will feel to your wrist. If you have existing tightness, you may even find relief by switching to an ergonomic mouse. Just give yourself some time to adjust to it.

The scrolling wheel on the mouse allows you to move the page up or down.
Scrolling Wheel on Mouse

Audio Input

You might be thinking, 'What do you mean, audio input?' By definition, it is the entry of data by some type of audio device. Examples of audio input devices would include microphones or even mp3 players.

When we say microphone, we're not saying you are singing to your computer, though you certainly could be, or playing drums, piano or guitar. In my case, I am using a high quality microphone to record the audio for this lesson. My French brother-in-law uses a headset with a microphone when he plays online games with his friends from home. It's still input, even though it is not being recorded.

Video Input

I don't know about you, but I love to use my digital camera and my video camera. I can save my photos or videos to SD cards and they become the input device, or I can plug my camera directly into the computer and the camera acts as the input device.

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