Accessorizing a laptop computer for your desk
How many of us sit hunched over a laptop computer’s small screen and tiny keyboard all day long? Then we wonder where those aches in our shoulders and cramps in our hands come from at the end of the day. Laptops have become ubiquitous in businesses, but they aren’t the most comfortable to use for extended periods of time. When used on top of desks, the keyboard is too high and the display is too low for good posture. Those posture recommendations for desktop computers are in the back of our minds, but they are more challenging to implement with laptops.
That’s why if you’re going to purchase a laptop for its portability, make room on your desk and in your budget for more than just the laptop:
– A mouse and a keyboard with a numeric keypad will minimize cramped hands. If you go the wireless (Bluetooth) route, be sure to tuck some spare batteries in your desk drawer. Check Dell and Logitech for mouse and keyboard combos. (What works for laptops can also be applied to tablet computers. One of those tablet cases with a fold-up stand and a wireless keyboard makes typing easier.)
– Remember those typing stands with adjustable height? Along those same lines, we need the computer’s keyboard lower than the desktop. Consider a keyboard drawer mounted under your desk. Try one from 3M or Fellowes.
– One method to raise a laptop display is to use a cooling pad or stand. These come with fans to circulate air better than the small fans inside laptops. Remember, heat is the enemy of all electronic devices. If the fans in your laptop sound like a jet taking off, try a cooling pad from Cooler Master or Targus, among others.
– A wide-screen LCD monitor with adjustable height is essential for your viewing pleasure, perhaps something in the 21.5- to 24-inch range with 1920×1080 resolution. It can be configured to be the only active screen, or to mirror your laptop’s display or as a second screen, letting you expand your virtual desktop. For example, you can keep an email inbox displayed on the laptop and flip among windows for Word, Excel and an Internet browser on the big LCD monitor. To minimize head bobbing, elevate the laptop so the two screens are at the same level. There are many manufacturers of computer monitors. Dell, Samsung, Hewlett-Packard and LG are the worldwide market leaders.
– To tie everything together, consider a laptop docking station. They are convenient in that you just snap on a laptop and the power and peripheral connections are already made, at least if you buy a docking station and compatible laptop from the same manufacturer. With third-party “universal” docking stations, you must connect some of the cables yourself. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Toshiba and other business laptop manufacturers carry docking stations. Third-party brands include Kensington and Targus.
Once you’ve accessorized a laptop for use on your desk, think about buying a smaller laptop. You won’t need a 15- to 17-inch laptop display when using an external LCD monitor. Look for laptops with displays in the 11- to 14-inch range. That will make lugging it back and forth between work and home easier on your shoulders. And avoiding aching shoulders is where we started this discussion!