Peripherals, or the parts of computer hardware that are added to the host computer, are commonly updated to provide competitive advantages. These optional devices incorporate all necessary hardware (except the computer itself) and expand a computer's abilities.
Peripherals are generally attached externally, usually through a USB port. Besides printers, scanners and joysticks, peripherals can include WiFi cards with external appendages. Retailers may not consider internal devices, such as video capture cards, as peripherals because they are placed inside a computer's casing. PCMCIA cards that fit inside a laptop also may not be regarded as peripherals. Monitors and disk drives are also not considered peripherals, since they are not optional.
Today's peripherals serve many purposes. For example, scanners can be used for inventory, price checking and shelf replenishment. Another scanner provides a scale and offers an LED "scan adviser." Some scanners provide optical effects technology. Whatever the function, retailers expect more out of peripherals and can expect to see higher-tech devices hit the market in 2008. RIS