The ICT Lounge
 
Section 1.1:
Hardware, Software and Computer Types
 

This section will take a look at hardware/software and the different types of computers.

You will learn the differences between hardware and software, as well as examples of each.

You will also see different types of computers including their uses, advantages and disadvantages.

Learning objectives of this section:
#
Know the difference between hardware and software and be able to identify examples of each.
#
Understand the uses of different types of computers and be able to identify examples of each.
#
Be able to discuss advantages and disadvantages of each different type of computer.

_Hardware
Key Words:
Hardware, Physical, See, Touch, Pick-up
Definition:
"All the physical parts of a computer that you you can see, touch and pick up."

Overview of hardware:
Examples:
Hardware is physical and can be touched.
#

Hardware is 'physical'.
Physical means that it can be touched and picked up

_#
Hardware works with computer code to carry out jobs such as:
  • Producing an image on a computer screen
  • Producing sound
  • Moving cursers / pointers around a screen
  • etc

_Examples of hardware: (click images to zoom and retrieve more info)
 
Keyboard
Mouse
Monitor
Scanner
Printer
 

Other examples of hardware include:

  • Graphics Card
  • Sound Card
  • Network Card
  • Computer Case
  • Cooling Fan
  • Modem
  • Router
  • CD/DVD Reader
  • CD/DVD Burner
  • Power Supply
  • Cables
NOTE:
We will look at individual computer hardware components in a later unit.

 

 
CD-ROM
Motherboard
Digital Camera
Speakers
Web Cam
 
 

 
RAM
Hard Disk
Processor
Microphone
Memory Stick
 
 

_Software
Key Words:
Software, Electronic, Instructions, Cannot Touch or Pick-up
Definition:
"Coded programs that control how the computer works"

#

Software cannot be touched or picked up.
Examples:
Software is code that exists inside a computer.
This is because software is not physical. It exists as computer code inside the computer.

#

There are 2 types of software - System Software and Application Software.
#
It refers to the programs that we run on our computer and it tells the hardware how to do something useful.

Software is basically a set of instructions (written in computer code) that tells the hardware what to do

#
Without software, most hardware would be useless.

_Examples of software:
System software:
This type of software includes operating systems and different utilities to allow your system to run smoothly. System software often manages the computer's resources.
Operating Systems
Disk Cleaners
Disk Defragmenter
Virus Protection
 
Other examples of system software:
  • Graphic Drivers
  • Debuggers to identify system errors
  • Compression Software
  • Encryption Software
  • Disk Check
 
Application software:
Everyday programs that you use to produce something useful. Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are good examples.
Word Processors
Graphics Editors
Web Design Programs
Spreadsheet Programs
 
Other examples of application software:
  • Presentation Program (PowerPoint)
  • Database Program (Access)
  • Web Browser (Internet Explorer)
  • CAD Design Software
  • Media players
  • Computer Games
 
a
How to remember the difference between hardware and software.
1. Is it classed as a computer or part of an ICT system? YES
2. Can you touch it? YES
2. Then it is HARDWARE
1. Is it classed as part of an ICT system? YES
2. Can you touch it? NO
2. Then it is SOFTWARE

NOTE:
If you are asked to name types of software you should NOT use brand names.

For example: you should use 'Graphics Editor' rather than 'PhotoShop'.
Activities!

Click the above task and correctly identify the different examples of hardware and software.

Click the above task and test yourself to see what you have remembered about hardware and software.


_Types of Computers
Key Words:
Personal Computer, Laptop, Tablet, Smart phone
Definition of a Computer:
"Computers are devices that accept information and then manipulate it to produce a result."

Computers allow us to perform many different tasks from gaming to complicated calculations. Computers range from very large to very small and it is estimated that there are over 1 billion of them in use around the world.

There are many different types of computers and people often choose which type they use based on what sort of tasks they want the computer to carry out. This section covers the main types of modern computers including:

  • Personal computer
  • Laptop
  • Tablet computer
  • Smart phone
Personal Computer (Desktop PC)
 
Information:
Examples:
Click image to zoom in and retrieve more information.
 
Standalone desktop PC's are used by one
person at a time.
 
Networked desktop PC's are joined together in order to share information and resources. They will be used by multiple people.
 
Desktop PC's need a constant supply of power.
#
Personal computers are usually found in the home and in schools/business offices.

#
Personal computers are made up of input devices, output devices and storage devices all held together within a base unit which houses all the hardware components that make the PC work.


Uses of Personal Computers:
#
Personal computers can be used as either:
  • Standalone computer (used by one person at a time)
  • Networked computer (part of a group of connected computers)
#
Standalone computers are often used by single users to perform tasks such as school work, gaming, household accounts, internet access and emailing.

The standalone computer is self-sufficient and can operate without
connecting to other computers.

#
Networked computers are joined together on a network and are used to share resources such as printers, programs and information.

They are designed to be used by multiple users who often need a username and password to access the PC.

For Example:
A classroom will often contain one printer which all of the networked PC's can access and share.

Shared drives are used on networks in order to share information. Every desktop PC that is connected to the network can access the information in the shared drive.

 
Networked computers are also used to access Intranets. These are a kind of private Internet which is only accessible to computers on the network and are used to share private information and emails etc.


Advantages/Disadvantages of Personal Computers:
Advantages (compared to laptop)
Disadvantages (compared to laptop)
You get a better specification for your money.

(better components for the same price)
Desktop PC's are large and bulky.

(this makes them not very portable)
Cheaper to buy due to components being easier to make.
They need a constant power supply as they do not use batteries.
The keyboard is easier to use as it is larger than a laptop keyboard.
Need to copy files onto portable storage (memory stick) or send via email if you need to work in a different location.

Note: This is because they are not portable and can't be moved easily.
Design of casing allows for heat to escape.

This helps to keeps the PC cool.
 
Laptop
 

Information:

Examples:
Click image to zoom in and retrieve more information.
 
Laptops have built-in in Wi-Fi which makes it easy to connect to wireless networks and the Internet.
Laptops are portable and can be used almost anywhere.
#
Laptops are portable computers and are small enough to sit on your lap.

#
Modern laptops are generally almost as powerful as a desktop PC and are used for similar tasks and purposes such as multimedia, school work, Internet access etc.

#
They have LCD screens (Liquid Crystal Display) which use low-power. This helps increase the run-time of a laptop's battery.


Uses of Laptops:
#
Like desktop PC's, laptops can be used as both standalone and networked computers.

#
As a standalone computer, they can be used almost anywhere due to their small size and a built-in battery which powers the laptop when there is no access to a plug socket.

#
Networked laptops are used for the same purposes as networked PC's....... to share resources and information.

Note:
Laptops are easier to connect to wireless networks due to their built-in Wi-Fi.

Advantages/Disadvantages of Laptop Computers:
Advantages (compared to PC's)
Disadvantages (compared to PC's)
Smaller and lighter and are much easier to transport. (portable)
Limited battery life means you need to recharge quite frequently.
Laptop components use low-power.
Smaller keyboards are sometimes hard to use.
Built-in rechargeable battery means they will work even without a mains power supply. (portable)
Laptops are prone to theft as they are often used in public places.
Usually come with built-in Wi-Fi which means they can access the internet and wireless networks from locations with access.
Laptops are compact and can get hotter than a desktop PC.
No need to transfer files onto portable storage if you need to work in a different location. You simply take the laptop with you.
 
Tablet Computers
 

Information:

Examples:
Tablets use touchscreen technology.
Stylus pens can be used to draw directly onto the tablet's screen.
Tablets are small, thin and light which makes them very portable.
On-screen digital keyboards are used in place of physical keyboards.
 
Apps can turn tablets into a range of devices including satellite navigation units.
 
Tablets are also used for multimedia such as video, music etc.
#
Tablets are small, hand-held, mobile computers that share a lot of the features of desktop PC's and laptops.

For example:
They have a processor, RAM, backing storage, battery and can produce sound and visual displays.

#
Tablets use touchscreens instead of a mouse and keyboard to input commands.

For example:
Instead of using a physical keyboard they use an on-screen digital version.

Instead of using a mouse to control cursers or input commands, the user of a tablet would use their finger on the touch-screen.

#
Tablets usually come with 'physical buttons' which are used to switch the computer on/off and alter volume.

#
They are often equipped with a range of sensors including microphones and cameras.


Uses of Tablet Computers:
#
Tablets can be used for similar functions as a desktop PC and laptop. For example:
  • Multimedia (movies, music, games etc)
  • Internet access (web browsing, emailing, Skype etc)
  • Using application software (word processing, spreadsheets etc)
#
Tablets use built-in Wi-Fi to allow them to connect to networks in order to share resources and Internet access etc.

#
Graphic designers can use stylus pens to draw directly onto the tablet's screen. This is more accurate than using a mouse to draw the image.

#
They can also run a wide range of custom apps that allow the tablet to perform lots of useful purposes such as:
  • Satellite navigation
  • E-Book reader
  • T.V remote control
  • Weather forecasting
  • And thousands more...................
These apps are either purchased or downloaded for free at online stores such as Google play and Apple's app store.

#
Some tablets also have slots for SIM cards (subscriber identity module) which allows the device to make phone calls just like on a mobile phone.

Using SIM cards can also give tablets the ability to access 3G and 4G technology. This allows the tablet to access the Internet even in areas without wireless networks.

Note:
The difference between 3G and 4G is just speed......

4G (4th generation) can download Internet data faster than 3G (3rd generation).

Advantages/Disadvantages of Tablet Computers:
Advantages
(compared to laptops)
Disadvantages
(compared to laptops)
Smaller and lighter (more portable).
Less storage space.
Touchscreen can be used with a stylus pen to draw images directly to the screen.
Not as powerful as a laptop (slower performance).
Built-in cameras lets users capture images and videos wherever they are.
Some people find the digital on-screen tablet keyboard harder to use compared to a larger laptop keyboard.
Longer battery life .
Touchscreen can be hard to use for detailed tasks such as graphics editing.

(mice are easier to use for these purposes)

 
Smart phones
 

Information:

Examples:
Early mobile phones had basic displays and could only make voice calls and perform text messaging.
Smart phones can do much more than text message and voice calling. They can capture high-def video, images and have a wide-range of other useful functions.
 
Some smart phones have small physical keyboards.
#
Early mobile phones could only make voice calls and send text messages.

Modern smart phones (like iPhones) have much more functionality and can perform similar functions to desktop PC's and laptops.
#
Smart phones often have the following features built-in:
  • Digital cameras (both video and images)
  • Sound recorders
  • Calendars and Organisers
  • GPS satellite navigation
  • Wireless connectivity (to the Internet and other networks)
  • Bluetooth connectivity (to connect to devices close by)
  • Word processing and spreadsheet creation facilities
  • etc
#
Smart phones usually have touchscreens and either use on-screen keyboards or have a very small physical keyboard.


Uses of Smart phones:
#
The uses of smart phones are very similar to that of tablets. For example:
  • Internet access (both on wireless and using 3G/4G)
  • Multimedia (video, games, music etc)
  • Running apps
  • Making phone calls and messages
  • etc
(click here to revisit the description of tablets uses)


Advantages/Disadvantages of Smart phones:
Advantages (compared to tablets)
Disadvantages (compared to tablets)
Smallest of all computers (literally fit in your pocket).
Very small screens can be hard to see (especially if you are trying to view video).
Some have integrated physical keyboards which many people find easier to use than tablet's on-screen keyboards.
Not as powerful as a tablet.
Generally cheaper than most tablets.
Lower battery life (tablets can operate longer off a single charge).
More practical to use for phone calls and text messaging.
Very small size makes them easier to misplace or get stolen.

Activity!

Click the above task and fill out the questions all about different types of computers.

 

Please add your questions/comments below:
 

Links to Theory Units:
Section 4: Networks and the Effects of using them
Section 6: ICT Applications
Section 8: Safety and Security
Section 9: Audience
Section 10: Communication
 
Links to Practical Units:
Section 11: File Management
Section 12: Images
Section 13: layout
Section 14: Styles
Section 15: Proofing
Section 16: Graphs and Charts
Section 17: Document Production
Section 18: Data Manipulation
Section 19: Presentations
Section 20: Data Analysis
Section 21: Website Authoring

Back to top