By Vangie Beal
A device is a complete piece of physical hardware that is used to compute or support computer functions within a larger system. Some devices, such as peripheral devices, are auxiliary in nature and can provide an input, output, or both to a computer.
Most peripheral devices require a program called a device driver that acts as a translator. The device driver is responsible for converting general commands from an application or operating system into specific commands that the device understands or vice versa.
In general contexts, a computer itself can also be considered a device. It’s important to note, however, that the individual hardware components that create a computer like motherboards, processors, and ports, are not considered devices on their own.
Types of devices
In specific contexts, a device usually falls under one of the following categories:
- Input devices, which write data to a computer, includes keyboards, mice, touchpads, joysticks, scanners, microphones, barcode scanners, and webcams. Input devices are types of peripheral devices.
- Output devices, which accept data from a computer, includes display monitors, printers, speakers, headphones, and projectors. Output devices are types of peripheral devices.
- Storage devices, which both write data to and accept data from a computer, includes CDs, DVDs, Blu-Ray disks, USB flash drives, and SD cards. Storage devices are types of peripheral devices.
- Internet of Things (IoT) devices, which have their own IP addresses and communicate over the Internet, includes smart home devices such as speakers, security systems, thermostats, cars, and lightbulbs.
- Mobile devices, which are compact computing tools that connect to the Internet wirelessly and contain an internal power supply, includes smartphones, smartwatches, tablets, laptops, and e-readers.