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Laptops and ergo problems
Old 09-10-2008, 08:09 AM   #1
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Laptops and ergo problems

When I was working, we were taught that desktop computers posed ergonomic risks, not only with keyboard position, but also w/ the monitor position and that (as I remember) the top of the viewing screen should be about level with the eyeball position when you were seated properly.

With a laptop, although keyboard position seems ok when on your lap, the monitor, since it is attached to the laptop, seems much too low according to the rule above. It helps that you can adjust the angle of the laptop monitor .
Just wondering if the rule above does not apply any more, or in this situation,
or are there ergonomic risks (which might not be seen for many yrs).
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Old 09-10-2008, 09:00 AM   #2
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Marketing and Economics will ALWAYS change the rules. AFTER the new laptop with detachable and wireless monitors are invented they will go back to the old rule.
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Old 09-11-2008, 08:45 PM   #3
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I use an adjustable height laptop table that slides under my easy chair so that the key board is parallel with the arms of the chair and the screen is at good height so that I am not looking down all the time. (I am 6' 1")

The weight of the average head is 8 - 10 lbs. Try lifting and playing with a 10 lb bowling bowl and you get an idea of what is dangling on the end of your neck when you are not sitting straight.
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:49 PM   #4
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I misread this thread title as laptops and ego problems. Suddenly it all made sense.

Ha
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Old 09-11-2008, 09:52 PM   #5
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I don't see the problem. My laptop sits on my chest, and my head is supported by the arm of the sofa. As an additional bonus, when my nipples start burning I know it's time to sign off. Built in governor.
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Old 09-12-2008, 12:41 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Alan View Post
I use an adjustable height laptop table that slides under my easy chair so that the key board is parallel with the arms of the chair and the screen is at good height so that I am not looking down all the time. (I am 6' 1")

The weight of the average head is 8 - 10 lbs. Try lifting and playing with a 10 lb bowling bowl and you get an idea of what is dangling on the end of your neck when you are not sitting straight.
Your solution is probably much better than 99% of what I imagine others do which is to rest the laptop on the lap as seen in airports, coffee shops, etc.
Still, since the keyboard and monitor heights cannot be independently adjusted as for a desktop setup, I cannot believe that even your setup is ideal. I am 5 inches shorter than you and even if I adjust the keyboard to the ideal height, the monitor is still 8-10" too low. I used a pillow to raise the height and re-discovered what I was never supposed to do......the soft surface conforms to the bottom of the laptop and blocks ventilation and raises the temperature of the computer. I liked your bowling ball analogy......I think that's how they taught us at work (I had forgotten).
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Old 09-12-2008, 06:59 AM   #7
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Your solution is probably much better than 99% of what I imagine others do which is to rest the laptop on the lap as seen in airports, coffee shops, etc.
Still, since the keyboard and monitor heights cannot be independently adjusted as for a desktop setup, I cannot believe that even your setup is ideal. I am 5 inches shorter than you and even if I adjust the keyboard to the ideal height, the monitor is still 8-10" too low. I used a pillow to raise the height and re-discovered what I was never supposed to do......the soft surface conforms to the bottom of the laptop and blocks ventilation and raises the temperature of the computer. I liked your bowling ball analogy......I think that's how they taught us at work (I had forgotten).
No, my set up is not ideal, but I can rest my head against the back of the chair which tells me my head is not angled downwards too much.

When I want to sit with the recliner in the up position I have a special laptop cushion which has a cushion for resting on the legs and a hard top to allow airflow. I bought this in a store that sells all other types of back and neck cushions supports and and chairs. It works much better than a cushion.
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Old 09-12-2008, 07:27 AM   #8
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I only use my laptop at home, in my easy chair. I move it around a lot as I move (and as my elementary school teacher would have told you, I do quite a bit of "fidgiting" about).
  • Sometimes I put my laptop on the ottoman and type there.
  • Sometimes I put my feet up on the ottoman and put the laptop on my lap (on one of those wedge like, 3-4" thick lap protectors that keep my lap from getting too hot and raise the laptop). This is my favorite position.
  • Sometimes, I bend my knees and the laptop rises accordingly but the keyboard tilts a bit more.
  • Sometimes I turn sideways, put my feet over the armrest on the left, and type with the laptop balanced on my thighs and tummy.
I think that because of the variety of positions, usage of the laptop is not very likely likely to cause problems for me.

On the other hand, at work I am much more careful with my desktop computer. There, I must sit in a conventional way in an uncomfortable chair and I do not have a choice of positions. I am careful to keep the screen at a proper height, to have the chair properly adjusted, and to use a wrist cushion to help protect me from the possibility of carpal tunnel problems.
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Old 09-12-2008, 08:27 AM   #9
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On the other hand, at work I am much more careful with my desktop computer. There, I must sit in a conventional way in an uncomfortable chair and I do not have a choice of positions. I am careful to keep the screen at a proper height, to have the chair properly adjusted, and to use a wrist cushion to help protect me from the possibility of carpal tunnel problems.
But like most of us with any safety type issue many things we do at home we wouldn't be allowed to do at work. In my megacorp chemical company you are 10 times more likely to be hurt at home than at work
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:36 AM   #10
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No, my set up is not ideal, but I can rest my head against the back of the chair which tells me my head is not angled downwards too much.

When I want to sit with the recliner in the up position I have a special laptop cushion which has a cushion for resting on the legs and a hard top to allow airflow. I bought this in a store that sells all other types of back and neck cushions supports and and chairs. It works much better than a cushion.
Interesting......I had never heard of those cushions. I went online to check the price of those cushions and then afterwards realized I should have googled the general problem in the beginning. Found this interesting article which showed that the world already knew about the problem but I've never seen anything written specifically about laptops.
Macworld | Laptop ergonomics

One suggestion they give is to get a separate keyboard so you can optimize height of both keyboard and monitor. Limits use as a laptop but I guess if you are a serious user, it should probably be used like a desktop for those long sessions.
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Old 09-13-2008, 08:48 AM   #11
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Interesting......I had never heard of those cushions. I went online to check the price of those cushions and then afterwards realized I should have googled the general problem in the beginning. Found this interesting article which showed that the world already knew about the problem but I've never seen anything written specifically about laptops.
Macworld | Laptop ergonomics

One suggestion they give is to get a separate keyboard so you can optimize height of both keyboard and monitor. Limits use as a laptop but I guess if you are a serious user, it should probably be used like a desktop for those long sessions.

The cushion I use is made by Brookstone.

When I RE and move back to our "home" apartment in Texas I'll go back to using the purpose built computer alcove where I plug in a separate keyboard and mouse that is on a proper pull out tray below the level of the computer table. (We are here in Louisiana for another 18 months)
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Old 09-13-2008, 09:25 AM   #12
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My favored position is to lay my head on the arm of the couch, supported by a pillow, bend up my knees so my feet are flat on the couch. The dog lays under my knees. The laptop rests on a pillow that rests on my knees. This puts the screen up fairly high and supports my arms and wrists as I type.

In the cold of winter I rest my hands under the laptop to warm them up.
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Old 09-13-2008, 03:02 PM   #13
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My favored position is to lay my head on the arm of the couch, supported by a pillow, bend up my knees so my feet are flat on the couch. The dog lays under my knees. The laptop rests on a pillow that rests on my knees.
I bet if you spill your coffee it's absolute chaos...
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Old 09-13-2008, 03:54 PM   #14
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I bet if you spill your coffee it's absolute chaos...
I can see it now.. coffee cup in hand..... knock at the door.... dog jumps up barking.....
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Old 09-13-2008, 07:45 PM   #15
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Try it with a 3 year old flying through the air in an attempt to land on your chest...

Leather recliner, fully reclined, laptop in the lap. About all I get are periodic bouts of tendinitis. When I was using a Thinkpad with the trackpoint (aka 'the eraserhead') I had no trouble. Tiny trackpads are not good things...
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