The things that you plug into your computer in order to expand its abilities are called peripherals. Some peripherals are essential to using a computer, such as basic input devices like your mouse and keyboard. Other peripherals, like scanners and projectors, perform a specialized function that not every computer user needs.
You probably already have a good idea what peripherals your family will want for the computer – all of them! We're exaggerating, of course, but the truth is that most families use their computer for a wide range of applications (everything from shopping online to playing games to making movies) and need many different peripherals.
For starters, you'll want to get a mouse and keyboard that are sturdy enough to withstand constant use (and abuse). It's also a good idea to get ones that can be cleaned, since it's inevitable that a kid with sticky fingers will touch them at some point. Another product that many families purchase is a printer that's capable of printing digital pictures on photo paper. This can save you hundreds of dollars in photo processing fees.
For the Businessperson
If you use your computer primarily for business purposes, you should concentrate on getting peripherals that can increase your efficiency when working on the computer. Buying a good printer and scanner (often these are sold as a single device that can perform both functions) is a good place to start. It's also a good idea to get an ergonomic keyboard, because typing for hours at a time can place a tremendous strain on your wrists and fingers (and it may even lead to carpal tunnel syndrome).
If you make a lot of formal business presentations, you may wish to purchase your own projector. Most offices will have a projector you can use, but you won't know for sure that it will work with your laptop or that it will have a fresh bulb inside.
For the Student
Printers are an essential peripheral for students. Make sure to get one that allows you to change the printer cartridge without much difficulty. Trust us – there will be times when you print your entire essay only to notice that you misspelled the name of your professor or the course code in the header on every page and you have to print it again. College students use a lot of ink.
Many students own laptops, but if you own a desktop computer, a large computer monitor with good resolution can be a good investment. Many students use their computers as multimedia centers. Watching DVDs with your friends is a lot more enjoyable when you have a good monitor and you don't have to strain to see what's happening.
For students who use laptops, it's a good idea to buy a second charging cable. You can keep this cable in your bag and have it handy on campus for those moments when your laptop battery runs low. Trust us, it will happen. Heck, you might want to do the same thing with a charging cable for your cell phone. Batteries always seem to run out of juice at the time when you need them most.