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[ The PC Guide | The PC Buyer's Guide | Designing and Specifying PC Systems and Components | Detailed Considerations and Tips for Specifying Particular Components ]

Other Peripherals

The specific component sections in this part of the Guide discuss most of the parts and peripherals found on a typical PC. However, there are many, many other PC-compatible components and peripherals on the market. One of the most beautiful aspects of the PC platform is this great variety of choices, and the power it gives the PC enthusiast.

There is one peripheral that is not really part of the PC per se, but that I want to talk about because I strongly recommend it for every PC user: a power protection device. These range from inexpensive surge suppressors that provide your power supply with some basic protection against power problems, to uninterruptible power supplies (UPSes) that insulate the system against power problems up to and include blackouts. No system should be without some kind of power protection device, and with UPS units now so inexpensive, I consider them a must for any serious PC user.

Here is a brief description of some of the other PC peripherals that many PC owners find themselves buying over time, either to suit a specific need or because they find a few bucks burning a hole in their pockets and can't resist. :^) Bear in mind that this list isn't comprehensive, but it does cover the most common items that PC buyers eventually add to their systems:

  • Removable Media Drives: There are a wide variety of storage devices on the market that complement the hard disk and optical drives found in virtually every PC. These are often used for backup, an important chore that is often ignored, or for transporting files between machines.
  • Networking Hardware: If you have more than one PC in the same location, you may wish to network them together. This can provide a lot of benefits, including letting several users share an Internet connection, data files and even printers. You will need a network card for each machine, and possibly a hub to go between them (though if you have only two PCs you don't need the hub.) Even high-speed 100 Mbit/s Ethernet is now very affordable for the home user.
  • Microphones: A microphone plugs into your sound card to let you input sound to your system. This allows you to do many different things, such as recording your voice to a file, operating voice-controlled software, or making telephone calls. Microphones are generally very inexpensive and come in a variety of shapes and styles.
  • Scanners: A scanner is the opposite of a printer: it converts paper text and images to electronic format, and is very useful for those who need to archive or use graphical information already in paper form. Combined with optical character recognition (OCR) software, it can be used to convert paper documents to electronic text files. It can also be used in conjunction with a modem or Internet connection to allow you to fax paper documents to others.
  • Joysticks And Other Game Controllers: These are input devices specifically for use in games. They come in a variety of different designs, some with a dozen or more buttons, sliders, switches and other controls. These various inputs are used to control aspects of different games. A joystick or game pad is a must for anyone who is really into gaming; it usually connects to the motherboard or sound card.
  • Digital Cameras: A digital camera is a camera that takes electronic pictures instead of using chemical film. I suppose it is arguable that a digital camera is not a PC peripheral, but most digital camera owners connect to their PCs to download, edit, store and print their photographs. If you're into photography and haven't tried digital yet, you owe it to yourself to give it a try! Digital cameras range widely in price and are exploding in popularity.

Next: Notebook PC Specification Issues

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