Most of us are old enough to remember the early days of personal computers, back when they were just whirring hunks of noisy plastic used for data entry or simple word processing. Now, computers touch nearly every facet of our lives, from how we communicate and work to how we travel and relax.
For each of these areas, computers often require various accessories to maximize their functionality for the particular task. Whether it’s a fancy mouse for gaming or a near-indestructible keyboard suited for a warehouse, these accessories have become a booming market in and of themselves. To best explore this diverse and complex group of products, we’ve broken down a few sub-genres of computer accessories, highlighting their perks and perils.
Huh?: Covering standard products like mice, keyboards and other types of necessary computing hardware, these “vanilla” accessories, are the most conventional, but also the most widely used.
Consider: The idea isn’t just to give end-users a new keyboard or mouse, but one better than their current device so the product will be used. There is a wide array of bell-and-whistle features that can boost a product’s perceived value, like wireless connections or additional buttons, but it’s also important to consider the device’s performance as a whole. As Mary Crug, co-owner of Direct Connections Inc., Redmond, Wash., explained, “What [distributors] really need is to ask some questions and find out what’s on the inside.” She continued, “Especially on wireless mice, if you use a low-grade chip to build that mouse, you’ll burn through tons of batteries. So you may be saving 50 cents or a dollar, but your customer or the end-user is going to be very unhappy with having to replace batteries constantly.”
User-friendliness: Good overall. Nearly all device upgrades are going to be plug-and-play, meaning they work as soon as they’re connected to a computer, but additional features like customizable shortcut or media keys may add confusion or simply not be used.