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Gadgets & Home Improvement

Back to the desktop: Laptops are crippling us

Laptops are wreaking havoc on our upper bodies.
Asia One - April 22, 2013
| More
Back to the desktop: Laptops are crippling us

 

By Al-Haadi Abu Bakar, 
The Brunei Times/Asia News Network 
For the majority of consumers today, laptop computers make a far better investment for their needs, be it for work, study or leisure.
While desktops are still being used nowadays, mainly as workstations in offices and by PC gamers, laptops have easily filled the need for personal computing over the years.
This is because laptops are almost as powerful as desktops, far more versatile, and they don't look ugly at home.
Laptops have freed us from being chained to the desk. Ever since then, we have been computing at home, at work, on the road, in the air, in bed, and in the bathroom.
Laptops continue to improve each year too. They have shed a lot of weight, are more energy efficient and are faster than ever before.
Laptops also outsell desktops. There are laptops of different class and sizes. There are even budget laptops for students, ultraportable laptops for business and large powerful laptops for professionals.
So who buys a desktop anymore?
Well, I do. In fact, I have taken a huge step back from this trend after realising the dark side of laptop computing.
When laptops started becoming mainstream in the last decade, I was amazed by how personal computers have evolved from big stationary rigs to mobile devices.
But this evolution is not exactly a good thing for mankind, particularly our health.
Laptops are crippling us.
Remember how we were taught in school on proper posture when using a desktop computer to prevent various health problems? Many of these guidelines are associated with desktop computer use.
But here's the problem with laptops; ergonomics. Since they do not have a detachable display and keyboard, there is no posture that is correct while using them. They are wreaking havoc on our upper bodies.
While laptops are becoming lighter and slimmer in terms of form, their design has not chanced to allow more comfort for the user.
According to Harvard Medical School, using a laptop is a trade off between poor neck/head posture and poor hand/wrist posture. When the keyboard is in the proper position for the wrists, the screen is not in an adequate position for the neck and vice versa.
When propping a laptop on a desk, it's often too low and too close for comfortable viewing. Our hands are higher than our elbows, our wrists are resting on the edge of the work surface and our back is not supported.
It's even worse when used on our laps; our heads are dropped, causing muscle tension in our back, neck, shoulders and chest.
If there is one way a laptop can be ergonomically correct, it's by raising the entire laptop on a stand or a docking station and using a wireless external keyboard and mouse at a proper position.
But laptop displays are often too small for comfortable viewing and productivity. Hence, there are those who have considered getting a larger flat screen monitor and hooking it up to their laptop.
Unfortunately, this setup is only limited to a stationary workspace, and all this require a lot of work if you use your laptop in different places.
And this is why I'm moving back to the desktop as my main computer. My 11-inch ultraportable laptop is now my second computer which I will only use when I need it.
For heavier tasks and prolonged use, it's much more comfortable and productive working on a desktop. After spending years looking at a tiny laptop display, its refreshing to work on larger adjustable monitors.
I've asked a number of people who have made the same decision recently, and they claimed that they are much more productive working on desktops, and there are signs of improved comfort levels.
Furthermore, there's a new kid on the block that is already toppling laptop sales; the tablet.
While some may still argue that tablets will not be replacing PCs anytime soon, they have become laptop replacements for a lot of people and made desktops somewhat popular again.
In fact, if you haven't noticed, desktops are beautifully designed today. No longer the big ugly grey boxes we used to remember back in the day, personal desktop computers are now moving towards compact and elegant design, smaller carbon footprint and amazing flatscreen monitors.
The more popular ones have the entire computer built in the display, such as the iMacs.
Meanwhile, tablets free us from the bad ergonomics of laptops and make perfect companions to a desktop computer.
The desktop+tablet setup is slowly gaining popularity as the perfect powerhouse and portable combo; one for heavy use and another for lightweight mobile use.
Meanwhile, many old folks have ditched their computers completely in favour of tablets. Although simplicity and good-enough computing is the main reason for their switch, they are also happy with the book-like ergonomics, which is nicer to their backs.
The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Brunei Times.

By Al-Haadi Abu Bakar, 

The Brunei Times/Asia News Network 

For the majority of consumers today, laptop computers make a far better investment for their needs, be it for work, study or leisure.

While desktops are still being used nowadays, mainly as workstations in offices and by PC gamers, laptops have easily filled the need for personal computing over the years.

This is because laptops are almost as powerful as desktops, far more versatile, and they don't look ugly at home.

Laptops have freed us from being chained to the desk. Ever since then, we have been computing at home, at work, on the road, in the air, in bed, and in the bathroom.

Laptops continue to improve each year too. They have shed a lot of weight, are more energy efficient and are faster than ever before.

Laptops also outsell desktops. There are laptops of different class and sizes. There are even budget laptops for students, ultraportable laptops for business and large powerful laptops for professionals.

So who buys a desktop anymore?

Well, I do. In fact, I have taken a huge step back from this trend after realising the dark side of laptop computing.

When laptops started becoming mainstream in the last decade, I was amazed by how personal computers have evolved from big stationary rigs to mobile devices.

But this evolution is not exactly a good thing for mankind, particularly our health.

Laptops are crippling us.

Remember how we were taught in school on proper posture when using a desktop computer to prevent various health problems? Many of these guidelines are associated with desktop computer use.

But here's the problem with laptops; ergonomics. Since they do not have a detachable display and keyboard, there is no posture that is correct while using them. They are wreaking havoc on our upper bodies.

While laptops are becoming lighter and slimmer in terms of form, their design has not chanced to allow more comfort for the user.

According to Harvard Medical School, using a laptop is a trade off between poor neck/head posture and poor hand/wrist posture. When the keyboard is in the proper position for the wrists, the screen is not in an adequate position for the neck and vice versa.

When propping a laptop on a desk, it's often too low and too close for comfortable viewing. Our hands are higher than our elbows, our wrists are resting on the edge of the work surface and our back is not supported.

It's even worse when used on our laps; our heads are dropped, causing muscle tension in our back, neck, shoulders and chest.

If there is one way a laptop can be ergonomically correct, it's by raising the entire laptop on a stand or a docking station and using a wireless external keyboard and mouse at a proper position.

But laptop displays are often too small for comfortable viewing and productivity. Hence, there are those who have considered getting a larger flat screen monitor and hooking it up to their laptop.

Unfortunately, this setup is only limited to a stationary workspace, and all this require a lot of work if you use your laptop in different places.

And this is why I'm moving back to the desktop as my main computer. My 11-inch ultraportable laptop is now my second computer which I will only use when I need it.

For heavier tasks and prolonged use, it's much more comfortable and productive working on a desktop. After spending years looking at a tiny laptop display, its refreshing to work on larger adjustable monitors.

I've asked a number of people who have made the same decision recently, and they claimed that they are much more productive working on desktops, and there are signs of improved comfort levels.

Furthermore, there's a new kid on the block that is already toppling laptop sales; the tablet.

While some may still argue that tablets will not be replacing PCs anytime soon, they have become laptop replacements for a lot of people and made desktops somewhat popular again.

In fact, if you haven't noticed, desktops are beautifully designed today. No longer the big ugly grey boxes we used to remember back in the day, personal desktop computers are now moving towards compact and elegant design, smaller carbon footprint and amazing flatscreen monitors.

The more popular ones have the entire computer built in the display, such as the iMacs.

Meanwhile, tablets free us from the bad ergonomics of laptops and make perfect companions to a desktop computer.

The desktop+tablet setup is slowly gaining popularity as the perfect powerhouse and portable combo; one for heavy use and another for lightweight mobile use.

Meanwhile, many old folks have ditched their computers completely in favour of tablets. Although simplicity and good-enough computing is the main reason for their switch, they are also happy with the book-like ergonomics, which is nicer to their backs.


The views expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Brunei Times.

 

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