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Computer Output Devices: Monitors, Speakers, & Printers

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  • 0:05 Output Devices
  • 0:19 Monitors
  • 2:36 Printers
  • 4:48 Speakers & eBooks
  • 5:49 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.

So you've entered information into your computer. How do you get it back out? Here's a look at output devices such as monitors, speakers, printers and eBooks.

Output Devices

We need to head to the computer store one more time. We've picked out your system unit and input devices. Now we've really got to figure out what's important for your output devices, or how we are going to see and hear the data and information created and stored in your computer.

Monitors

You know, none of these are really easy choices. If it's just you working on the system, the decisions might be simple, but if you have to consider others' opinions, not so much. Let's start with the monitor. We use this to view the work we're doing at the time or to view a finished product. We may also use it to view videos or photos we've taken or found online.

Monitors come in many sizes and descriptions. To make the best decision, you should ask yourself what you'll be doing the most with your computer. Are you just writing papers or creating presentations? Are you surfing the Internet? Are you playing games once in a while? Are they games that are not intensive in graphics? Are you making and editing videos for fun - or for a profession?

If you can keep it simple, the standard monitor is for you. If you're playing games with intensive graphics, making videos or working with digital photographs or art, you may want a high-definition monitor. If you're going to use a computer as your home entertainment system, you can find one that is TV-ready as well.

The type of monitor you choose should depend on what you will use it for.
Computer Monitor Image

The size of the monitor you use truly depends on your preference. Things to consider are your eyesight, who else will be using it and the distance the monitor will be sitting away from you (assuming you go with a desktop unit, not a laptop). There are monitor sizes ranging from 7 inches as a supplementary peripheral, but normal monitors range from a 17-inch diagonal to a monster 55-inch diagonal! You could comfortably surf from the couch in the living room with a monitor this size.

Monitors are created with LCD (liquid crystal display) or LED (light-emitting diode). LCDs have layers of glass, polarized film and liquid crystals. You get electrical impulses sent through, and this causes the color to be shown and image to be displayed. LED monitors take the LCD one step further. They put a diode on the back that forces light through the layers for a sharper picture and better colors. It is said that LED monitors will last longer than LCD monitors.

Have you decided which one you want to go with? Don't forget, you've also got touchscreen monitors available should you have a use for them. The most practical use of a touchscreen monitor for consumer and professional use would be to someone with a physical disability.

Printers

The next difficult decision to make will be the printer that will work best for you. Printers are used to create a tangible product to look at away from a monitor. For consumer use there are two kinds to choose from: the inkjet and the laser printer.

The inkjet printer uses a liquid ink that's sprayed through a print head onto a piece of paper. How? Simply put, the printer interprets the signal from the computer and converts it to instructions that go through the print head. Inkjet printers are typically inexpensive to purchase, although the replacement ink can be costly and add up.

Laser printers use heat technology and specialized powder called toner or another medium (I've seen it with wax - it looked like crayons) that's heat-sealed onto a piece of paper. Laser printers are somewhat expensive, though they've come down in cost as the technology has increased.

Both types are often available as mono-color (or black-only printer), full-color or an all-in-one printer. An all-in-one printer typically has a printer, a copier and a scanner. Some still have a fax feature as well.

Inkjet and laser are the two types of printers sold in stores.
Printer Types Image

You should ask yourself how much you'll be printing and how often. If you don't print too much, the inkjet printer may be for you. One disadvantage, though, to not printing often with an inkjet printer is that the print head can actually plug up, dry out and then not work. If you print frequently or in large quantities, you may find yourself purchasing ink quite often. Ink varies in price but ranges between $9 and $25 for about 250 sheets of text-only in black ink. The toner for laser printers seems prohibitive but usually will print up to 5000 sheets of paper per cartridge. These toners are between $80-$100 a unit.

An example of typical usage: several years ago I bought a mono-laser printer (actually, it was an all-in-one) for about $170. It was used to create syllabi for seven different classes and hand-outs for most of those classes, for my daughter to write papers for her high school classes and for my son (who discovered SpongeBob on the Internet and printed out hundreds of coloring sheets), and I prepared at least 60 tax returns in that season. The one toner cartridge lasted more than a year.

If you've made your decision on printers, we will look at the last two common output methods: speakers and eBooks.

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