Are You Hurting: Response

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A little while back, we asked laptop users if they literally made them hurt. Thanks to all who responded!

Here’s what we heard:

Yes

I work with a ThinkPad laptop every day, for a minimum of 5 hours a
day
(they are the standard issue workstation for everyone in my company).
I used to get pretty bad neck pains and the beginnings of RSI in my
forearms. I (and many others in a similar position) now have a normal
full size keyboard and mouse, and a stand that lifts the laptop screen

to
eye level. This essentially gives you the same working postion as a
normal desktop computer. Since using this I don’t get the discomfort
that I used to, at least not any more than you would expect from

sitting
at a desk for too long!

I would certainly recommend anyone who uses a laptop for any length of
time to think about these kind of measures – it took a couple of years
for the symptoms to manifest themselves in my case, but when they did
it was very uncomfortable.

I am 26 years old, have been using a laptop daily
for 3.5 years.


I own an aging Sony FX-240 (P3 800mhz) and the thing I notice the most
is the wrist pain. After only a couple of minutes my wrist and the
whole top of my hand has an incredible pain. I have to stop using it
every few seconds. This never happens with desktops, no matter how
cheap the mouse is. Also I noticed that since the LCD on the laptop

is
not as good as some of the newer ones I’m keeping my head locked in a
certain spot so that I can see the screen the clearest and after a
while
(5-10 minutes) I’ll have to play around with my neck a bit otherwise
I’ll be hurting.


Age: 41

I am forced to use my laptop when on the road (1 week per month).
The 14″ display of my IBM T42 is difficult for my old eyes. I end up

hunched over the keyboard attempting to read the text in spreadsheets.

Increasing view magnification requires too much scrolling. The end

result is sore back, neck, and shoulders from laptop use and lots of

wasted time walking around trying to get the kinks out. Combined this

with hotel beds and it can make for a long week.


Yup, I get carpal tunnel from my laptops and I’ve been using them for

4
yrs and I’m now 32yrs old.

It started with the Inspiron 8600 series when they came out with their
crappy keyboards and then I got a replacement board that was better

and
it disappeared for a year & now I have the latitude D810 and it is
back.

I’ve always wondered if the Dell crowd has noticed this – I FIRMLY
believe that the Dell keyboards are THE WORST available as the depth

of
stroke is VERY short.


My laptop is a notebook, “this is before they started calling all

laptops notebooks and when notebooks were small laptops” and because

of this, it has a 10” screen, I’ve found that 10” screens can cause

sore eyes (as you could probably guess, although it is a pretty decent

screen with the same amount of pixels as my 17” TFT for my dell) and

the positioning of the notebook is also unhealthy as the head is

looking downward for lengths of time that cause neck aches. Another

problem is cooling, I’ve often needed to reposition my laptop on my

legs to stop it burning (yes, it really does get that hot even if you

don’t block the fan and yes, there are periods where you don’t have a

desk) and because the keyboard is fixed to the screen, it’s impossible

to get into a comfy position for long periods of time. I would

recommend to anyone, DON’T buy a laptop just because they look pretty,

or because you can afford one… buy it if you really truly need it, not

because there pretty or look cool.


That news article hit the nail on the head. I use my laptop daily for
on-site network administration and troubleshooting. The combination

of
a smaller keyboard and the touchpad causes those exact pains if I have
to sit over it for more than an hour or so. If at all possible, I

like
to plug in a USB mouse/keyboard if I need to use the laptop for
extended
periods.


I purchased a notebook in January for my undergrad studies, and I find
now that I can’t use it for more than 2 hours at a time without being
forced to stop because of a very angry back and set of wrists. In
fact, it’s gotten so bad that I had to buy an external mouse/keyboard
combo and use this with a normal monitor whenever I’m at home. This
wouldn’t be so bad, if my laptop wasn’t a tablet PC (Acer C112) as
well! I have to almost completely forgo using the tablet screen if I
want my wrists and neck to survive!


I’m a 4th year thesis student and due to the nature of my thesis, I’m

forced to work long hours in front of my laptop. The main complaint I

have are the elbows, where they’d hurt A LOT from propping up my

wrists for typing. I now carry 2 soft towels for cushioning and it

reduces the pain signficantly.


I did hurt a lot with my laptop until I got a laptop stand to bring

the
screen to eye level and an adapter so I can use a regular keyboard and
mouse with it.


Yes.

I can’t use my laptop for more than an hour without neck and back

pain.

I now have a Monitor and USB keyboard at work and a USB KVM switch at

home.

So its just a glorified luggable with emergency screen and keyboard.

I’d be happier with a Lugable and LCD monitor, but I am the vast

minority.

Also, lugging batteries around (in the case) doesn’t benefit me.

It took a couple of months to figure it out at my new job.

I’m 50, so it doesn’t help.

By the Way, the current laptop is an IBM. Its ok. The Dells I had

before this really were crap. Reliability problems, battery died

after 6 months, motherboard died at 2 years, external PS died, hinges

died. And I locked that one in my desk and never took it anywhere.


YES, it hurts.

I am 29 years old.

I have a bad back, and my wrists are generally ok. although I did

wear
them out in my teens with various musical instruments. I also don’t
have the best vision in the world.

When I use a laptop, I can end up with sore wrists, back, and neck.

Some of this is my fault.

if I have my resolution too high, because I Think it looks cool,

that’s
my problem. or if I crane my neck to see the screen, cuz my

resolution
is too high, that too is my problem.

Because of my back problems, I am pretty conscious of my posture so I
usually don’t have a problem with that. but posture is something that
is wholly in the control of the person. not the manufacturer.
students
are hunched over their laptops because they dont have good posture, or
can’t see the tiny words cuz they won’t turn down the resolution. I
was
quite successful at sitting for long periods of time with proper
posutre
with my laptop at arms length on the desk. no back problem with that
whatsoever. of course I had to turn down the resolution to 800×600,
and
I didnt like that the people behind me could easily read what I was
writing, but the choice was that or pain.

there is no reason for students to be hunched over, unless they’re
trying to hide behind the screen to not get called on by the professor
because they haven’t done the assigned reading for that class. Which
admittedly, I have done from time to time. 🙂

the keyboard on the other hand, I can do nothing about.
it hurts. I found myself dreading long stretches of class time

because
it would hurt to type the longer I was in class. I’d stop taking
notes. or I’d start writing them the old fashioned way.

on my desktop I switched to an ergonomic keyboard several years ago.

I
hated to do it.I hate the way they look, I want a tricked out light up
keyboard. but it no longer hurts to type. I’m between jobs at the
moment, but I fully plan to lug around an ergonomic keyboard with my
laptop should it become necessary.

smaller is better is not always true. just as bigger is better is
obviously not always true. nothing is always true. and portability
may be the driving force in laptop design, but it will if it hasn’t
already come to a point where they are no longer functional relative

to
the needs of the human body. if I’m in an 8 hour meeting, I’m far

more
comfortable typing on something bulky thats easy to see and easy to
use,
than I am on a pda with an addon keyboard.

I always looked at it from the viewpoint of “what is easiest to use?”
NOT “what is easiest to carry?” people are too damn lazy. if the
laptop is heavy, GOOD. obviously that person needs to work out more.
when I walked with my legal casebooks and bulky laptop 3 miles total
every day for law school, it wasn’t a burden, it was EXERCISE. would
it
have been easier with a laptop that weighed less? absolutely, I have
back problems!

but I don’t get stronger by being lazy. and I don’t make my back
problems healthier by not using the muscles.


Kind of, Used To, Not Really, But

Yeah, laptops cause pain. But that’s mostly because we try to use them
where
we wouldn’t dream of dragging a normal PC to.
It happened to me today on the bus: I had to put my leg in a really
weird
position to support the laptop and have both my hands free for typing.
(Guess were I’m typing this mail from)
Result: now my leg is really hurting from sitting like this for 45
minutes…

If you would make a poll an ask people the weirdest place they ever
used a
laptop I think you’d be surprised with the results.
BTW: I’m 18 years old and drag this 3.5kg laptop to school everyday…


I just bought a laptop a couple weeks ago for dell during one of their
deals. Its a inspiron 6000D. Consider ergonomics the ONLY time i get
strained using it is if the laptop is on my lap and the wireless mouse
i use is on a different level then my lap. If everything is on a desk
then its fine. Its just those weird positions if I’m surfing on my
couch and the mouse is a different level. If i use the track pad i
don’t feel any problems.


My laptop is my only rig at the current moment. When I first got my

laptop and started up one of those 8 hour gaming sessions I noticed

myself getting exhausted and I was experiencing a mild burning

sensation in my upper body and I had to quit after just an hour of

play. After playing several different games over time I realized that

not all of the games did this to me. I think that It might be the

resolution that the games are at as only the games that run at 800×600

or lower cause this problem but that is an educated guess at best. I

have found that having a well lit room and taking lots of breaks help

out allot. I have noticed that drinking extra fluids helps out along

with not looking at the screen 100% of the time. During loading

screens I have come accustomed to looking at other things in the room

and doing some stretches… I have never have experienced this with

a CRT.


For the most part, no. I have an HP Pavillion zd7000 laptop, which is

a
large desktop replacement. This machine has a 17″ widescreen display
and a
full-size keyboard with seperate keypad with a large, wide wrist area.

I use a Targus Podium Coolpad with my laptop, on the road and at home,
because it props up the back of the unit about 1.5″ which helps
cooling. Two
additional benefits I have found is it helps raise the LCD display to

a
more
comfortable level, as well as the slight angle of the front wrist-

wrest
area
makes extended typing easier (as well as having real-sized keys with
real
space between them).


I use my IBM T40 laptop almost every day, no problems here. I’m 29
years
old. At work, I have a seperate CRT monitor, keyboard and mouse
though, so
that probably helps. In the evenings and when I work from home though
(1day/week), it’s just me and the laptop. My posture cerntainly needs
improving, but that is not the result of hte laptop.


I have a company issued IBM Centrio and a personal Toshiba. I am 25

years old and I have not had any ergonomic issues with either of them.

That said, I usually use a laptop _on my lap_ (or, at least thigh). If

I were to hunch over it on a table in a coffee shop, well, duh, that

might cause some problems. And to answer the obvious question that

using a laptop on one’s lap brings up: no, the bottom of a well-built

Centrino does not get hot.


As long as I am not literally hunched over for long periods of time, I

have never been hurting from my laptop. It does not take too much

effort to sit up straight and use a laptop, and that’s all it takes to

be pain free. For me anyway. I am 22


I’ve been using laptops for the past 5 years. Sometimes I find myself
regularly adjusting the screen and sometimes I find myself a bit
uncomfortable, but that’s fairly rare. Usually the only discomfort I
feel
is just from being in the same position for too long. I can’t say my
laptop is hurting me.

Age: 26


The question: laptop ergonomics. No discussion: my desktop system with

21’ CRT and Logitech Media Desktop is by far more comfortable, than my

trusty little Compaq N410C. But: you can’t beat the weight.

Laptops are (mostly) for carrying.. . . I think, a laptop should be

used for long term office work only with a docking station and a good

keyboard+mouse. These are the bare minimum, a good monitor should also

follow.

My advice: don’t use a laptop (notebook, sub-notebook, whatever) for

long-term work or play. Get a decent desktop machine and get a nice

little cheap notebook for carrying it around. Or get a docking station

with some decent notebook (T41, D610 or Tecra). Some cheap crap will

only get you unnecessary hurt. And some miracle machine with a 3.2

PressHot is gonna burn you in places, where you would like it the

least.


I use a company laptop 6-7 hours a day 5 days a week for work

purposes. I am 27 and in great shape. The laptop is a Toshiba

Satellite Pro 4600, has a nice 15 inch screen and decent sized

keyboard. I have no pain from it, but my company does take steps to

ensure we are using them correctly. We have adjustable height chairs,

with adjustable armrests. It takes around 5 minutes to find the

perfect position, but once it’s found I experience no pain whatsoever,

and minimal fatigue.


No and Beyond

Im 19 years old, and I’m in college. I’ve had my laptop for 8 months

now, using it every day for atleast a few hours at a time. I

experience no discomfort while using it. The only problem I have is I

have to take my watch off to go on it otherwis the wrist band will

begin to dig into my arm because im a lazy typer and I rest my arms on

the laptop. I could type on this thing for hours. I think I actually

prefer this to a normal desktop configuration.

With it being a 15.4 inch laptop though, the keyboard is still farily

sizeable. I could see myself having issues if I had a smaller, say 14

inch laptop. And I know i couldnt work with some of those 12 inch

portables. But for me, this works just fine. Its 7 lbs, so its no

light weight, but its not that bad to carry around. All in all, this

laptop doesnt cause me any pain, even when typing that late night

essay for hours on end.


I have an eMachines M6805 laptop. I am 18 years old and I have never
felt any discomfort from my use of it (or any of my other laptops).
The M6805 does not get hot, just slightly warm, even when running
DOOM3. The only time I felt pain from any laptop would be an old (5
years ago) HP that constantly overheated and burned me. the bottom was
almost too hot to hold, even with jeans on. Accidentally touching he
metal screws on the rear ports would be a BIG mistake. Luckily, Best
Buy gave me a different model after the FIFTH return (when the screen
finally fell off).

I typically use the machine at home; I sit in my big office rolly
chair, kick it back, and put my feet up on my desk or a drawer on the
TV stand and use the laptop on my lap. I do this all the time without
any discomfort. Sometimes I’d have it on my desk next to the monitor
for my desktop computer (web and AIM on laptop, DOOM3/HL2 on the
desktop). This is also not uncomfortable. I will also crawl up with it
on the bed and watch DVDs. I have never had any problems using a
laptop, except maybe a sore shoulder if I’ve luged the machine around
in it’s bag for 20+ minutes.


I was given a laptop (a Dell Latitude D600) at work because of a

change
in
my job description, and have been using it for about nine months. I do
not
have a docking station, so I always use the unit’s built-in keyboard
and
monitor. I have to say that in this time I have not noticed any

unusual
aches or pains. I do occasionally get a sore neck, but no more so

often
than
I get when handwriting or reading materials on my desk. There is one
other
circumstance that causes me some short term discomfort; that is
carrying the
thing around through the airport slung on my shoulder, but any luggage
does
the same.

I would also tend to disagree with the proposition that the source of
any
discomfort is because the screen and keyboard are to close together.
When I
write I am puting the words in exactly the same position as where I am
looking at them; I do not think you can get much closer. I would more
suspect the many poor postures Ms. Weatherbee is putting herself in.
Get out
of bed; most hotels I have been in have a writing desk she could use.
If you
are in a cab and working on your lap causes trouble, take some time to
look
at the scenery going past your window, or read some printed materials.
(My
experience is that computers have NOT produced a paperless
environment.) If
she feels like she HAS to use her computer so constantly, I would also
wonder if her aches and pains are not partially due to stress.


My main problem with laptops is not the laptop itself. It is the

places I take my laptop to, e.g. bed, couch, lap, etc., that make my

body hurt. There is a little truth in every lie, so I have to agree

that the laptop can couse some discomfort while using it due to its

vent locations. I use a fairly cool running 15″ Pentium M, and the fan

only fan is the CPU/GPU heatsink fan in the back left corner of the

case. It sucks up air from the bottom. Exactly where my leg would

naturally rest. So the only discomfort is to lodge my legs a little

further appart than I am naturally comfortable with.

I guess it is the phenomenon that people, once they have a laptop,

actually take it everywhere. I get my kicks out of a person in the

airplane coach seats trying to watch a movie with their uber-17″

widescreen laptop. That, causes the discomfort. If I had a 12″ laptop,

even a tablet, ergonomics of use and design would be improved

dramatically.

So, in my humble opinion, I would say we are going through a phase of

ergonomics, similar to the mainframe computers back in the 1960’s.

Nobody wanted such a beast in their basement. Eventually we will have

no such problems anymore. Laptops will become “wrist”tops. They will

be integrated into out glasses, earphones, whatever.

My advice: suck it up, and hope for a rapid development of “user”

friendly laptops..


While I was still working (10+ years as an IS professional), I used my
laptop non-stop 10+ hours a day for 10 years. The last few years I’ve
backed off a bit, namely because I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for 5
years.

I can say I’ve never had so much as a pinky-finger ache because of the
laptop. Never had a neck ache, never had this rediculous carpal

tunnel syndrome that seemed to pop up in the people around me that
were complainers and afraid to do some work.

I believe it is just another excuse, being pushed by the liberal

idiocy
groups, to have someone else take the blame for people not sitting up
straight while using a computer or laptop. Rediculous.

Argh. No pain here, other than a pain in my rear from hearing people
cry about stuff, lol.

This should be an interesting follow-up read after people reply to

you.


I don’t use a laptop. However, I might have a solution to those who
do… if there is actually a problem…

An Answer For Some?

http://www.thinkoutside.com/stowawaybt_product.html

http://www.thinkoutside.com/products/stwusb/stwusb_product.html

As a handheld user, I have NO keyboard to worry about… well, that
can be a blessing and a curse. Eitherways, companies like the one I
linked to (I’m not afffiliated with them, I don’t even own one of
their keyboards) provide portable keyboards to alieviate a large
number of “lack of keyboard” issues. The Bluetooth keyboard, if I
were to get any, would be the one I would obtain.

Either way, if the “keyboard is too close to the screen” as the
article you linked to proclaims, then one of these portable keyboards
could very well do the trick. There might be a few strange looks when
you are using a keyboard that isn’t the standard laptop keyboard,
however if this does solve the ergonomic problem, then it may be worth
the price. Also, if you have a portable device (especially one with
bluetooth), then the bluetooth keyboard can talk with them as well,
perhaps making the decision to go with that keyboard easier.

The general idea though is that if the keyboard is the larget problem,
then you can replace the keyboard, if so desired.

Conclusions

Looking at these responses, one can see a few trends:

It’s not BS: While this isn’t exactly a universal crisis, a pretty sizable proportion of the population hurts using these things, and it’s not just a matter of being inept about coping with it. Even those who said they had no problem often mentioned adjustments and/or addons they made to make themselves comfortable. Those who are hurting ought to look through these adjustments for helpful hints.

Age Hurts While hurting isn’t restricted to the post-college crowd, the older you are, the more likely it was you said you were hurting.

Experience Hurts Most of the time, this isn’t a matter of pain at first sight. Usually, those hurting only started hurting after quite a bit of time. Those who only recently got their machines rarely complained of pain. That only comes later, so even if you’re not hurting now, you might want to see and adopt some of the coping measures mentioned so you don’t hurt later.

A Dark Horse Cause One possible reason for some people hurting which people might not think of immediately was improper screen resolution; if you can’t see those little things you’re typing, you’re more likely to hunch forward so you can. That may be a DOH for many in this audience, but it might not be for some of your friends, lovers and associates.

Again, thanks to all who participated, and hopefully, a few reading this will get some relief.

Ed

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