CNET GLOSSARY: Terms for the techie
An adapter comes in many forms, but it's essentially a device that connects to or installs on your computer, adding a specific capability or feature. The most common example is a circuit board, such as a graphics card or a NIC, that installs into a PCI or another kind of expansion slot on a desktop computer's motherboard; it's also known as an expansion board. Then there are the credit-card-size modem, networking, and other adapters you can plug into your notebook's PC Card slot. The SmartCard reader you'd plug into a USB port to download photos from your digital camera or the cradle you use to synchronize your PDA with your desktop could also be called adapters.
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