What Does Device Mean?

A device is a unit of physical hardware or equipment that provides one or more computing functions within a computer system. It can provide input to the computer, accept output or both. A device can be any electronic element with some computing ability that supports the installation of firmware or third-party software.


Typical hardware includes a computer mouse, speakers, printer and microphone.

A device may also be referred to as an appliance, gadget or electronic tool.

Techopedia Explains Device

A device can be embedded in a computer or be connected outside of it, but all devices can be separately installed or replaced. That said, devices in notebook and other portable computers tend to me more integrated. There are contradictions about a device’s scope; whereas some believe the computer’s components, others say the computer is a device in and of itself. Moreover, with the advent of cloud computing and virtualization, virtual machines and other related instances are also considered devices.


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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.