What characteristic best describes a magstripe reader?

  • an input device that reads encoded information from the back of plastic cards
  • an input device that digitizes an image by placing the document on a flat glass surface and scanning from underneath
  • an input device for playing games and flight simulation applications
  • a device that allows the use of one set of keyboard, mouse, and monitor to control multiple computers1
Explanation & Hint:

The characteristic that best describes a magstripe reader is:

An input device that reads encoded information from the back of plastic cards: A magstripe reader, short for magnetic stripe reader, is specifically designed to read the encoded information stored in the magnetic stripe found on the back of plastic cards like credit cards, debit cards, identification cards, and key cards. When a card is swiped through the reader, it decodes the information contained in the magnetic stripe, which is typically used for processing transactions, verifying identity, or granting access.

Now, let’s look at why the other options do not describe a magstripe reader:

  1. An input device that digitizes an image by placing the document on a flat glass surface and scanning from underneath: This describes a scanner, particularly a flatbed scanner. Such scanners are used for digitizing physical documents or images by scanning them, which is different from the function of a magstripe reader that reads data from magnetic stripes.
  2. An input device for playing games and flight simulation applications: This refers to gaming controllers or flight simulators’ joysticks. These devices are used to interact with and control video games or simulation software. They are not related to the functionality of magstripe readers, which are used for reading encoded data on cards.
  3. A device that allows the use of one set of keyboard, mouse, and monitor to control multiple computers: This describes a KVM switch (Keyboard, Video, Mouse switch). A KVM switch is used to control multiple computers using a single set of peripherals (keyboard, mouse, and monitor). This technology is unrelated to magstripe readers, which are focused on reading data from magnetic stripes on cards.

In summary, a magstripe reader is best characterized as an input device designed to read and decode information from the magnetic stripes on plastic cards.

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