Laptops & Portable Devices
Portable computers such as laptops, notebooks and netbooks are increasing in popularity. They allow easy and immediate access to computing facilities across a range of work environments, both within and outside the office. however, some aspects of portable computer design can make their extended use harmful to the posture and comfort of the user.
with a laptop, notebook or netbook it is usually impossible to achieve an appropriate screen viewing angle while maintaining correct keyboard posture. Laptop use is associated with shorter viewing distances and greater leaning forward of the head and bending of the neck than when working with a desktop computer.
Portable computer pointing devices – touch pads or ‘nipples’ (isometric joysticks) – are different from those used with most desktop computers and may be awkward to use. Usually the positions of these devices can’t be adjusted, which may encourage fixed working postures, increasing the risk of discomfort, pain and injury.
The use of laptops and notebook computers away from the work environment may be associated with special problems. They are often used in inappropriate workspaces with unsuitable furniture and in a poor working environment.
Important features of a portable computer include:
- A height- and angle-adjustable screen or a detachable keyboard. Alternatively, the facility to plug in a conventional keyboard and computer screen, or the use of positioning equipment to place the portable computer screen in an optimal position;
- The facility to plug in an external mouse (or other pointing device);
- As large a screen as possible with a positive polarity display (dark letters on a light background) to decrease glare and enhance readability;
- A non-reflective screen. Some ‘brightview’ screens may be difficult to use outdoors or where glare and lighting are a problem;
- Large keyboard with key size and spacing similar to those of a desktop keyboard, and a feedback mechanism, such as a ‘click’, to indicate when the keystroke is successful;
- Keys with a matt finish to prevent reflections from overhead lighting; A slope-adjustable keyboard. If it is not adjustable, the slope should be between 0° and 15°;
- A thin keyboard. The height at the ’asdf…’ row should be no more than 30mm;
- A sufficient space between the keyboard and the front edge of the laptop to rest the base of the hand when not typing;
- Friction pads on the base of the computer to increase stability;
- Light and durable enough to carry without undue strain;
- A long battery life.
Download the full computer guidelines brochure here.