Mobile Device Accessories – CompTIA A+ 220-1101 – 1.3

We can often add features and capabilities to our mobile devices through the use of accessories. In this video, you’ll learn about touch pens, active styluses, trackpads, headsets, speakers, and more.

Many of us use tablets and mobile phones every day and we use our fingers to manipulate and select things that might be on the screen. But there are other ways to provide input into these devices, and one of these methods is through the use of a touch pen. This is a touchscreen pen. You might see this referred to as a touch screen stylus or a capacitive stylus. It allows you to manipulate and activate the interface on these devices without physically touching the screen with your hand.

If you like to take notes by hand or you’d like to sign your name on the screen, you might want to use one of these touch pins. Since we’re used to using a pen or a pencil to perform many of these functions, it simply emulates that same process on something like a phone or a tablet. This also makes it a little bit easier to see what’s on the screen, because your hand has been moved away from the screen itself. So if you need to perform very precise functions or be able to do something very specific on the screen, you may want to try using a touch pen.

If you’re an artist or someone who wants to perform more precise work on a tablet, you may want to try using an active stylus. Sometimes you’ll hear this referred to as a digital stylus. And this does provide you with more functionality and more precise usability than something like a capacitive touch pen. The stylus is able to communicate independently with the device that’s being used even if those two devices are not touching each other.

When you do touch the pen to the device, the pen can recognize how much pressure you’re using on the screen and can change what you’re displaying on the screen as you’re writing. This can also include different buttons along the device so that you can tap, double tap, or perform other functions by clicking a button on the pen rather than touching the screen itself.

Unlike a capacitive stylus, which can be used on any capacitive touchscreen across many different manufacturers, an active stylus is commonly associated with a certain group of devices. For example, if you’re using an Apple iPad, you would need to use Apple’s own pencil to be able to interact with that device using their active stylus.

Here’s a better view of this active stylus. You can see as the user is writing on the screen and they apply a little more pressure, then you can see that the difference in the line width changes. This is a much more natural and a much more common way to interact with the devices that emulates what we’re already doing in the physical world with pen and paper.

But what if you’re using a computer that doesn’t have any type of capacitive display or any type of active touchscreen that you can interact with? In those cases, you can add a touchscreen capability with an external drawing pad. This takes an active stylus, which you’ve already seen, and combines that with an external digitizer that you then connect to the computer. This gives you that same precise input as an active stylus but allows you to use it across many different systems. So if you’re using different operating systems or you would like to have the same type of precise input on your computer as you might have on your mobile phone or your tablet, you may want to include an external drawing pad with an active stylus.

If you own a laptop, you may notice that the laptop doesn’t have any external mouse that comes with it. Instead the mouse functionality is built into a trackpad that’s commonly on the device itself. This is very useful when you’re working on the road and there’s limited space in an airport or on a plane and you would just like to be able to move things around the screen and interact with a number of different presses. You can use the built in trackpad on your device to accomplish that.

You can also take that same functionality you’re using on your laptop and bring it to a desktop system with an external trackpad. These are usually battery powered and connect to your system over Bluetooth, making for a very simple connection and one that you can use on almost any system. This allows you the same functionality you might commonly have on your laptop but even allows an extension of those functions to include multiple finger presses. And you can customize exactly the way this trackpad works on your system.

If you’re using the keyboard on a laptop, you may find that sometimes you inadvertently move the cursor or click a mouse button because you accidentally hit the trackpad. On some laptops, you’re able to disable the trackpad through the built in function keys. This would allow you to still continue to use the keyboard but would disable any of those inadvertent key presses on the trackpad itself.

If you’ve done a lot of work on your computer with audio and video or you’ve been using a mobile phone to communicate, you may be using a headset to make the process a little bit easier. These can sometimes be wired headsets that connect via USB to your device or they might have a 3 and 1/2 millimeter TRRS connection. That TRRS stands for Tip-Ring-Ring-Sleeve. This is an analog audio jack that takes the information you’re talking into your microphone or audio that you need to hear and sends it through the copper connection that’s plugged into this device.

If you’re an Apple user, you may not have the option of a USB or a 3 and 1/2 millimeter audio connection. Instead you may be able to use the Lightning port that’s built into that iPhone or iPad. And of course, if you don’t want any wires connecting your headset, you may be able to use a Bluetooth headset and connect to your device wirelessly.

I mentioned that 3 and 1/2 millimeter audio jack is often used to connect and it is a TRRS connection. It stands for the Tip Ring Ring and Sleeve connection that is able to separate all of the signals that you need to be able to both listen to the audio and talk into the microphone for both input and output to that device. And if you’re using an Apple device, you may want to use a wired headset with a lightning connector or use something like a Bluetooth where you can get rid of all of the wires and connect wirelessly to your device.

One of the challenges with our mobile phones and tablets is that the speakers inside of those devices are very, very small. So if you like better sound from your mobile devices, you may want to use a set of external speakers. These are usually battery powered and connect your device over a Bluetooth wireless connection and allow you to have a much better sound because the speakers inside of this device are obviously much larger than the speakers in your mobile device. And with the wireless and battery powered functionality, this is also a very portable option for listening to your favorite music.

If you’re watching this video on a laptop, a tablet, or a mobile phone, you may notice at the top of that device is a camera or a webcam. The use of these cameras has changed over time and these days we’re using them extensively for multimedia and video communication.

If you’re someone who takes your laptop back and forth between the office and home, you may notice that you are constantly plugging and unplugging cables whenever you arrive at one of those locations. One way to minimize all of this plugging and unplugging of cables is to use a docking station. The docking station stays in place at your office or your home and you would simply need to remove the laptop from the docking station, move it to the other location, and place it into the other docking station.

All of the other devices you use, such as printers, keyboards, mice, and displays all plug in to the docking station so you don’t constantly have to plug and unplug different devices depending on where you happen to be. Some docking stations can even support additional adapter cards. So if you wanted to extend the hardware functionality of your laptop, you may want to look into a docking station that provides those additional capabilities as well.

Here’s an office that has a screen, a phone, a keyboard, a mouse, and you can see there’s a docking station to the side that has a proprietary connector where you place the laptop right on the top. It makes the connection and now you’re able to use all of these external devices. This docking station looks like it’s large enough to also support additional adapter cards, which means we could even extend the functionality of our laptop.

If you like a simpler form of connecting and disconnecting your laptop, you may want to use something like a port replicator. This is very similar to a docking station, but you connect to this port replicator usually through a USB connection that’s on the replicator itself. These are also usually very small and don’t support the ability to add an adapter card into the port replicator. But this does speed the process of connecting and disconnecting, especially when you’re trying to get that laptop from one place to the other. You would simply connect over USB and you would have all of these other ports on the port replicator available for use while you’re connected.