Helping you balance your online life

Jul 10th


Fun Twists for Everyday PC Peripherals

Whether you have a new computer or an old one that you want to spruce up, ever-evolving technologies mean that there is always a new way to make your computer peripherals more interesting or useful. You don't have to be a techie to make great use of some fun and functional peripheral devices for your PC.
USB Cup Warmer

What's a peripheral? A peripheral is a device that is connected to the host computer, but is not part of the computer, itself. In other words, it can allow the computer to have additional capability than it would have on its own, but it's not part of the computer's core architecture. A peripheral usually will serve one of three functions: (1) input (sending data to the computer), (2) output (sending data from the computer to another device like a printer or monitor), or (3) storage (storing data that the computer has processed, which can include external hard drives, flash drives, etc.). Though any peripheral will serve some function, sometimes you'll find one that's just, well, fun. Here are some creative devices that can be used alongside your computer to either streamline your computing or just add a little enjoyment.

The one thing that you likely can't use your computer without is a keyboard. Of course, there's the standard style that probably came with the machine. But, if that doesn't suit your fancy, there are plenty of options for interesting and creative keyboarding. Especially if you're not a great typist, there are keyboards that are alphabetical (if you have trouble mastering the QWERTY scheme), color-coded or ergonomic. There's even a keyboard that gives you shortcuts to common texting abbreviations like BRB (be right back), BTW (by the way) and of course the ubiquitous LOL (laughing out loud). Along those lines is a Gboard, which is a small device that plugs into your regular keyboard but has 19 Gmail finger-friendly buttons. While you're writing your emails at lightning-fast speed, you can press a single button to reply, reply all, forward, trash, or star emails and more.

Another keyboard option is one that folds. There are plenty of iterations of folding keyboards, depending on the size and capability you want. These are favored especially by users of netbooks who feel that the compact keyboard is too small for comfortable typing. These models allow you to carry an additional keyboard wherever you need to go without the additional bulk.

What about your mouse? Pointing and clicking has become second nature to most regular computer users. The Peregrine Glove is one gadget that will bring your computing to a whole new level. Primarily for serious gamers, this glove uses a combination of touch points and activator pads to allow you to control your computer with just your hand gestures. Although currently used in gaming, it's not outside the realm of possibility that this glove, or one like it, will soon be a mainstream method for interacting with your computer. Would you be able to snap your fingers to send a document to the printer? This device doesn't do that yet, but where one appears, another is sure to follow... there's already a device that uses "gaze interaction", meaning that it tracks your eye movements in lieu of your moving a cursor on the screen. This works with a little bar that attaches to the bottom of your monitor and has a high-sensitivity sensor to follow your eye movements and have your computer respond appropriately.

USB Cup Warmer
Even if you're not so technologically inclined, you might still need to be spending long, laborious hours in front of your computer. If that's the case, your most treasured accessory could be a USB cup warmer. That's right-it's a device that keeps your beverage warm while plugged into your computer's USB port. No more breaking your concentration with trips to the microwave or coffee maker (until you need a refill, that is).

Dongle for Video and Audio Streaming
Another hot item right now is the Google Chromecast. The Chromecast is a dongle that allows you to stream video and audio directly from various web sources like Netflix, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, YouTube, or even your own home movies onto your TV via wifi network. So, instead of viewing movies on an iPad or computer screen, if you don't have another peripheral like Wii or other streaming device, this is a small, portable method to enhance your viewing options.

Card Reader
Finally, while all of these peripheral devices would be fun to have, most are not exactly essential. One item, while not necessarily essential, definitely is more practical, and that's a good card reader. A card reader is a data input device that reads data from any number of storage cards, including SD, microSD, MMC, XD, MS and a host of other size cards, depending on the specific reader. This allows you to easily transfer data from your operating system to and from another source like a mobile device, camera or something altogether different. Rather than having to attach the actual device, you simply remove its memory card, place the card in the reader, connect the reader to your computer and the transfer process is easy.

Computing can be as simple or sophisticated as you make it. The more you add on, of course, the more that can go awry. But, the little extras can also help to streamline your life and your computer experience.