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What are Laptop Ergonomics?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 29 September 2017
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2017
    Conjecture Corporation
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Laptop ergonomics is the science of designing workstations that fit both users and laptops. A person who uses a laptop as a primary form of computer may spend many hours working at that computer and may develop strains over time from poor posture. Laptops are small and portable, and many people find that special stands are better suited to work with laptops than desks. Like other forms of ergonomics, laptop ergonomics is all about the fit between the user and the machine and discovering what factors make that integration most productive and beneficial.

Unlike strategies used for other devices, laptop ergonomics relies primarily on training the body to work with the laptop rather than positioning the machine in a special way. A computer monitor can be placed in an optimum position and be moved separately from the keyboard. With a laptop, the screen and keys must always be connected, offering very few options for laptop ergonomics. It is possible to attach an extra mouse or keyboard to a laptop and reduce the problem, but this somewhat defeats the purpose of a laptop if one must transport the computer. The best way to practice laptop ergonomics is to conscientiously position one's body and use available furniture efficiently.

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Laptops are inherently not ergonomically designed. One must always either hold one's head using poor posture or use one's wrists and hands in a less than ideal way. Both of these misuses of the body will eventually cause strains, but it is much more important to use one's hands normally, as these will get tired faster. As such, it is usually best to sit with the laptop in one's lap if one will not be using it for a long period of time. For longer uses, it may be a good idea to move to a desk and take frequent breaks for the benefit of the hands.

Other considerations in studies of laptop ergonomics include eye strain due to screen size, shoulder strain from carrying the laptop, and finger strain from typing on a small keyboard. Even in less than ideal situations, using a laptop will not be harmful for short periods of time. The best solution to the majority of problems in laptop ergonomics is to use a simple laptop docking station that includes a keyboard and mouse when working for long periods of time. Without the extra keyboard, the next best solution is to utilize a laptop stand that tilts the keyboard toward the user and allows the screen to be placed at the optimum angle. These stands are excellent because they can often attach to chairs, desks, or any other favorite place to work, and they also can be made to swivel and prevent the computer from overheating.

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