Laptops and Ergonomics

Categories: All About Touch Typing, Ergonomics, Typing Tips and Tricks |

There are many good things about laptops that make them much more useful than desktop computers. They’re lighter, they’re portable, they take up less space, and some of the newer models are practically indestructible. They’re such all-in-one packages that it sometimes leads to one of the problems with laptops: the keyboards aren’t really set up for the best typing posture. Laptop keyboards are flat, generally slightly smaller, and less flexible in terms of numeric keypad availability and function key placement, due to space considerations. The reason it’s a problem is that people like the package so much, they’re often reluctant to “clutter” their workspace with a plug-in keyboard, even if that keyboard is better for typing and less likely to cause stress-related physical problems. We’ve talked about ergonomic keyboard options in previous posts, and it’s worth repeating that if you’re experiencing soreness, tension, or slower typing because of your current keyboard, it’s definitely time to look into alternatives – even if that means you’ve got something else to pack into your computer carrying case.

Keyboards aren’t the only issue with laptops, however. The touchpad on a laptop is in the middle of the board, which might mean that you’re forcing your arms into a cramped position to use it. Touchpads might not be the best option if you do a lot of complicated formatting or layout of your typed text. In either case, remember that there are both plug-in and wireless mouse options that will let you continue to point-and-click where necessary, while keeping your arm and hand in a more natural position to the side.

Laptops might be portable and easy to prop up on your lap (hence the name!) or a counter or the kitchen table, but you need to weigh the convenience of being able to use your computer anywhere with the potential problems you’re causing in your eyes, your neck, and your posture. When your laptop is actually on your lap, you’re probably holding your head at an angle looking down instead of straight ahead. On the other hand, your arms are probably in a good position like this. Alternatively, if you’ve put your laptop on a surface where your eyes are level with the screen, you’ll have your arms and hands raised up to an unnatural and uncomfortable position. Again, with a stand-alone keyboard and mouse, it’s easier to adjust the laptop so that the screen is in the right place. If you use your laptop at a desk, you’ll need a laptop stand to get this adjustment and leave room for the keyboard underneath.

Don’t forget that while it’s useful to have only one piece of equipment to deal with, you might be creating more difficulties than you’re eliminating. If you need extra computer tools to get the best typing experience, don’t hesitate to include them in your work budget.

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