Home Ch: 2 - Computers Output Devices
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Chapter 2 - Hardware and Software

Output Devices

After the data has been entered into a computer, the two primary ways of outputting the information are through the use of a monitor or printer.

Monitors display the text, graphics and videos from your computer programs. Commands and data can be seen on the monitor as the user enters commands through various input devices. They not only look like a television set, but also have the capability of receiving television channels with new video adapter cards. Monitors come in various sizes, resolution, and color.  The resolution of a monitor is important, since it displays the sharpness of the displayed text or images. The number of dots or pixels that are on a screen measures resolution. The greater the number of dots the sharper the displayed information. VGA monitors normally display images at 640 X 480 dpi (dots per inch) with 256 colors. Enhanced VGA can display images at 800 X 600 dpi. Super VGA displays images at 1,024 X 768 dpi. Screensavers protect monitors from “burn-in”, which leaves an after image on computers. Non-interlaced monitors are preferred over interlaced monitors, since they display the entire image each time. A monitor should have a dot pitch of .28 or lower. Dot pitch is the measurement used to describe the clarity of the image on a display screen. For display screens, dot pitch are expressed in millimeters, the smaller the dot pitch the clearer the display’s image.

The monitor size is important. We will be spending more time in front of a computer monitor as the practice of law becomes more automated and the Internet connections increase. A 19” color monitor is generally ideal when performing basic computing functions. Flat screens may cost more than conventional curved screens, but are less susceptible to glare and distorted images. The 19” monitor is large; see what it looks like on your desk before purchasing. If you are involved with high-end graphics work, then a larger monitor may be necessary. If you have gone or are going “paperless”, then a 21” black and white or color monitor is suggested to view the paper images on the screen or you may want to consider two monitors side-by-side.

Dell manufacturers a monitor that allows for landscape or portrait views that is great for document viewing. You can view a full page in a brief or memo without scrolling. It pivots from a horizontal to a vertical position.

The merging of computer monitors and television monitors will accelerate over the next several years to enable users to use the television or monitor for either computer applications, or to watch a television broadcast.

Display screens are either CRT – (cathode ray tube) or flat panel display (LCD). Which do you choose? CRT’s are relatively inexpensive, but require more power and desk space. CRT is a proven display that lets you see fine details. The LCD technology, available on laptops, is transitioning for use on desktop systems. LCD screens are only 2 inches thick and newer models provide crisp clear images. It saves the intrusive look of a regular monitor. Also, the costs are also starting to decrease rapidly. CRT’s images can be viewed from several angles, while it is more difficult from LCD’s. LCD’s save space, are flat, and therefore distortion free, and save energy and air conditioning costs.

Some monitor considerations:

- Inspect the adjustment or control keys, as they make a monitor easier on your eyes.

- Set the proper resolution; the monitor will default to the default setting.

- Monitors and graphics cards are interrelated and a user who upgrades to a high quality 19-inch monitor, but not the graphics card will see little improvement.

- Make sure the monitor supports the card’s capabilities.

- Privacy filters should be installed to prevent people from the side viewing your work.

- Know the warranty details.

Printers allow the user to see a printout of their work. There is a wide assortment of printers available for all price ranges and in all sizes. From the immensely useful travel size printers to the large 40 pages plus per minute office printer, the selection and prices change on a monthly basis. Before purchasing, it is wise to check the latest computer magazines for comparisons and recommendations on printers. Printers print text and graphics using a variety of methods, such as impact, laser, inkjet, or bubble-jet. Laser printers use lasers to draw characters and graphics on a dry ink drum that turns and transfers ink to paper. Inkjet and bubble-jet use liquid ink to spray ink onto a paper, forming characters and graphics. An impact printer prints characters and graphics by impacting a spoke, such as the letter against an inked ribbon, onto a piece of paper. Some considerations:

* Don’t forget to get a multi-bin paper feeder for your printer to handle both regular size paper, legal size paper and envelopes;

* Color printers are the rage as their prices decrease, and as more lawyers understand their value in including graphics into their briefs, motions, and trial exhibits;

* Consider purchasing a duplex printer, a printer that prints on both sides of a piece of paper;

* Don’t forget to factor in the cost of additional RAM needed to handle your PC or network needs;

* Do you need collating capability?

* Print out photographic samples as well as presentation and text samples on the printers you are considering;

* Speed is important for network printers and standalone printers. Speeds range from 2 pages a minute up to 90 plus pages per minute;

* The higher the resolution of the printer, the better quality the text or graphic will be. Normal resolution is 300 dpi. Enhanced resolution is 600 dpi, while some printers are able to print at 2500 or more dpi.

* The new combination digital copier/printers are superior to the old analog printers. Print quality is better, fewer breakdowns occur, and you can upgrade to seamless networking and faxing. The downside is that the cost is higher, and when one machine does all of your copying, printing, scanning, and faxing, one glitch can shut down the whole operation.

* Consider a label printer printer since it will save you the necessity of switching paper trays, etc.

Audio Speakers can be attached to computers and digitized audio sound can be played from a computer through the speakers. This is useful for videotaped depositions, wiretaps, and other data that has been digitized. One other significant application is the ability to utilize the capability of the computer to convert text to sound and listen to your documents. The computer can convert the text of a document, such as a motion, into audio. As more information on the Internet is presented in a multimedia format, speakers and other multimedia equipment is a must.


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