The use of laptops makes a lot of sense in theory – carry your whole computer with you so that you can work anywhere and anytime. (Note: I didn’t say “all the time”!) Designs for laptops are getting lighter, smaller, and more powerful. However, they come with an inherent flaw: the keyboard and monitor are attached! This flaw means that in order to see what we are working on our eyes have to go down to our hands and we end up looking like turtles.
The best way to use a laptop is to pretend it is just a fancy CPU – connect an external monitor, mouse and keyboard to it (hence the docking stations) and to put the actual lap-top use aside.
The second best way is to connect an external keyboard and mouse to the laptop and use the laptop screen as your monitor. When you do this you can move the monitor level up high enough so that you don’t have to lean down to see what you are working on. A good way to do this is to use a laptop riser/stand (commercially available) that opens the laptop really wide.
Don’t have access to a laptop/riser stand? A very large 3 ring binder with a non-slip mat between the laptop and the binder works very well too!
The third best way to use a laptop is to use the laptop’s built-in keyboard and monitor (with or without an external mouse). The best way to do this is to raise the laptop on a stand (or 3-ring binder) but just not raise it quite so high. This way you can still reach the keys but don’t have to go so far down for the monitor – a meeting in the middle. Your elbows have to bend more than 90 degrees but most people’s bodies can handle this (a lot better than they can handle the “turtling”). Some of the commercially available stands can collapse for easy portability; however, I usually just travel with a binder and some non-slip drawer liner. The binder can be used to protect my laptop when in my bag, hold my papers, and raise my laptop – I like things with multiple uses when I travel.