What is Plug'n Play ?

Why it is so great.

by Seamus Dolly

Plug and play equipment or hardware solves the problem of driver installation, re-starting routines, and generally speaking, "hassle", for those who are not technically proficient.

If your computer supports "Plug and Play", then, as the name suggests, you simply plug it in and play. For people who are "word perfect", plug and play might sound somewhat misleading. Peripherals, such as your mouse, keyboard, monitors, scanners, network adaptors, or printers are included in this. This long awaited technology is made possible via your U.S.B. port. U.S.B. is an abbreviation for UNIVERSAL SERIAL BUS. Using this port, your computer detects such peripherals, and after detection, configuration is automatic, in so far as you have no further input.

Prior to "plug n play", you would have to insert a floppy disc or CD, to supply and install the necessary software or "driver". To put it simply, your computer cannot see or indeed smell or intuitively know what a device, its properties, requirements and priorities are.

Most computers have two USB ports, usually situated on the back of your unit. A U.S.B. "hub" will effectively increase this number. Basically, it is like an electrical adaptor which allows up to seven devices to be connected to it. If you are a big "gadget" fan, you can simply plug another hub into the first one, and so on.

U.S.B. is classified as Serial communication, as opposed to parallel communication. This means that it transmits data/info/signal, if you like, one "bit" at a time. Conversely, it receives it in a similar fashion. This is done or executed, in one wire or cable.

Did you ever notice the "big" or "wide" ends on your cables? These cables are parallel and transmit/receive data/info/signals, many "bits" at a time. Therefore, parallel communication needs many cables/wires and consequently more connections, at its port.

U.S.B. ports and cables are smaller. Just pop around to the back of your P.C., and you will immediately notice the difference. On the machine that I am currently working on, I noticed that the printer has both types of ports and that the parallel port and cabling is the option that the technician used. The serial option would have worked just the same, at this level, where transmission speeds are of little relevance.

In summary, Plug 'n Play is welcomed and embraced by everyone and is a major step towards "user-friendly" computing.



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About the Author

Seamus is the webmaster of http://www.cashfromcash.com and his background is in engineering, analogue electronics. His studies include A+, Net+ and Server+.




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