Digital media can either refer to the sound and visual files a user accesses on a computer, or it can refer to digital storage devices that are used to transfer computer data. Usually, when a computer user refers to digital media, she is referring to the type of audio-visual media. Types of digital media technology include digital audio and video recording technology, digital media playback devices, and digital media editing software. Compact disks (CDs), digital video disk or digital versatile disks (DVDs), and digital cable boxes for television are some of the most common forms of digital media technology in household use. Other common devices include stereos with CD or computer audio file capability, digital televisions, or monitors used to view the digital video signal put out by the computer video card.
Many digital media devices simply play back the media file for the user to enjoy. Technology used to play digital media includes hardware and software. Common hardware used for digital media includes standalone handheld audio and video players as well as multi-functional devices with digital media technology capability, like iPhone® and Android®. Many digital media users use a desktop or laptop computer to manage, edit, and play digital media files. Because video games are also a form of media, video game consoles and video games themselves are forms of digital media technology.
Generally, media file types include image, audio, and video files. Digital media is in contrast with analog media because analog media is a stream of information, while digital media is made up of data broken down into numbers. Analog media includes tapes and records. Digital data is expressed in binary code, a computer language characterized by strings of 0s and 1s. Types of digital media files include Moving Picture Experts Group Layer-3 Audio (mp3) files, Joint Photographic Experts Group (jpeg) files and audio video interleave (avi) files.
It is less common for computer users to refer to data storage devices as digital media technology, and it usually happens when discussing computer memory storage. In most cases, the storage devices that might be called digital computer media are portable and removable, like a data card in a camera or the universal serial bus (USB) thumb drives used to move data from one computer to another. Though it indicates a different category of media, digital media units like CDs and DVDs still fit into this category of media technology.