Bitesize has changed! We're updating subjects as fast as we can. Visit our new site to find Bitesize guides and clips - and tell us what you think!


Input devices, processing and output devices


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Back
  2. Next

Output devices

Common output [output: the term denoting either an exit or changes which exit a system and which activate/modify a process ] formats are printed paper, sound, video and on-screen documents. They let the computer communicate with the user. Examples of devices that take advantages of these formats are:


The most common output device is the monitor or VDU.

Modern monitors, where the case isn’t more than a few centimetres deep, are usually Liquid Crystal Displays (LCD) or Thin Film Transistors (TFT) monitors.

Older monitors, where the case is likely to be around 30 cm deep, are Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) monitors.

CRT monitor

A CRT Monitor

LCD monitor otherwise known as a flat screen

LCD monitors are vastly slimmer than CRT monitor (left)


silver and white printer with small LCD screen

  • Laser printers are quite expensive to buy and run but produce a high quality output and are quiet and fast.
  • Ink-jet printers offer black and white or colour printing with reduced levels of quality and speed. Colour ink jet printers are cheaper to buy than colour laser printers.
  • Dot matrix printers are not so common today. They are comparatively noisy and low quality but are cheap to run and are used when carbon copies or duplicates need to be made, such as for wage slips. Also, they are useful in dirty environments such as a garage because they are much sturdier than the other two types of printer.


A plotter can be used to produce high quality, accurate, A3 size or bigger drawings. They are usually used for Computer Aided Design (CAD) [Computer Aided Design (CAD) software: used extensively in the automotive industry, aerospace industry, and in architectural design to draw 2D and 3D designs ] and Computer Aided Manufacture (CAM) applications [application: applications serve a specific purpose, eg Microsoft Word is used for word processing ], such as printing out plans for houses or car parts.

Other output devices

Many other types of output device exist including:

  • speakers
  • projectors
  • buzzers
  • motors
  • switched outputs
  • lights
  • mechanical devices, eg a robot arm


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. Back
  2. Next

Back to Hardware index

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.