When considering what type of input device you are going to use keep in mind that this
is the part of the system you will be most in contact with. Spend a little extra here and
purchase something that is comfortable and a high quality.
When purchasing a keyboard, sample several. Any keyboard will work, but find one that
feels good to YOU. The same for mice. We all have different hands and tastes. Keyboards
come in several difference styles, some are programmable, some have a few extra keys, and
others make a "clicking" sound when you type. Mice, too, are different; some use
a serial interface while others use a special interface that may require a hardware port
in the system. Some have 3 buttons while others have 2, for Microsoft compatibility only 2
buttons are required. See I/O for more information.
Focus & Lite-On make very good keyboards, as does Microsoft.
Microsoft and Logitech make the best mice.
Keyboards and mice are not the only input devices available though. Also available are
Joysticks, Light Pens, Scanners, and Cameras, just to name a few. All of these require a
special interface that may be an internal card or linked via an external cable to a socket
at the back of the system. The key here is to read the system requirements carefully
before purchasing, and the instructions when installing.
Joysticks = ThrustMaster (virtually any), Microsoft's 3D Sidewinder, Gravis
Game Pad, and CH's Flight Stick are considered the very best. I have had, used, and still
use virtually all of these. They each have their place, certain games where they seem to
excel over the others.
Scanners = Microtek and HP are two of the best for the money. Epson has a new
"hot" one out, and there are many other brands available. The key to Scanners is
the drivers. Are there drivers for the operating systems you are wanting to use? If you
are doing high-end graphics work, can the scanner be calibrated from within the program
you are using, such as PageMaker, Quark, Photoshop, Corel, etc.? Will the company supply
drivers for the model you are looking at in five years? Genius had the ColorScan series -
and a Windows95 driver doesn't seem to exist... if you bought it brand new five years ago
that is over $2,000 down the drain!
Dpi is also important with scanners. There is a HUGE difference between "optical
resolution" and "interpolated." The better the optical, the faster and
better the scans will be. So, a 2400 dpi interpolated with only an 800 dpi optical
resolution is BETTER than a 9600 dpi interpolated with a 300 dpi optical. Basically,
interpolated is nothing more than an algorithm which "fakes" (some times very
well) a higher dpi, sharpness, and quality.
To OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is where you scan in text, and have the
computer convert the scanned image into actual textual information that you can edit,
change, and manipulate. An effective OCR system requires two primary things; first, great
software, and second, the highest optical resolution possible (at least 400 dpi is
optimum). Another advantage is to have a "sheet feeder" - or at least the
Cameras = Casio works well, and seems to be one of the best for the money.
Determine what you need, how you are going to use it, and where the finished photos are
going to be used. Also, figure out how many photos you will need to take at any given
time, at what resolution, and a what quality. Are other lens required? Will you be working
with different distances? Different lighting? All of these things are necessary questions
that you need to think about, answer, and research before you spend the money. Lastly, how
do the pictures get transferred to the computer?
Digitizers = CAD people will require one of these. The possibilities, sizes,
and configurations are very important and need to be determined based on a number of
factors the individual customer answers.
Copyright 1998 T.E. Mercer, all rights reserved. This page was last updated 02 April 2000