Apparently, using my laptop as an everyday desktop computer is not cool.
We're an 'agile company', which means that some days I work in the office with my super sleek electric sit-stand desk, dual monitor screens, top-of-the range vertical mouse and ergonomic office chair. Other days I work from home on the purple Dell Inspiron laptop my parents bought for me to take to university eight years ago.
As trusty, familiar and possibly immortal as my laptop is, it's not very good for my neck, back, shoulders, arms, or wrists. Laptops are designed for working-on-the-go. The screen, keyboard and mouse are of course all connected for portability. So sitting correctly - with the screen at eye level, arms at a right angle to your body and your mouse arm in a neutral hand-shake position - is nigh on impossible with a laptop.
Laptops encourage you to hunch over to work, which creates tension in all your muscles. Using the track pad mouse in the centre of your laptop can increase neck and shoulder muscle use, leading to aches and pains. Laptops also encourage people to work in awkward places, like on their sofa, in bed, or on too-high train tables. And that's not all - if, like mine, the laptop is big and heavy, transporting it around without a fit-for-purpose bag is going to cause shoulder ache and back problems too.
It's no wonder that a recent survey of 1,000 UK adults by Dynamic Markets found that 79% of us believe working with mobile devices is making us ill. Of those surveyed, 5% said they had even been forced to give up their jobs due to long-term musculoskeletal problems from nomadic working.
While working on-the-go creates a range of potentially damaging ergonomic problems, there are fortunately ways to limit them.
Introducing the Slim Cool Laptop Stand, my trial product for the week...
Slim Cool Laptop Stand - how does it work?
Apart from sounding a little like a nerdy '90s rap duo, just what is the Slim Cool all about?
My first thought upon sliding the Slim Cool Laptop Stand out of its suspiciously small case, was: 'how on earth is this tiny thing going to support my massively heavy antique laptop?'
This laptop stand is light. Just 550g - the weight of a medium-sized chocolate bar (not that I'd know anything about that). Carrying my laptop from one room to the other is practically a workout. I had serious doubts about whether this compact little device was up to the job. Besides, it looked nothing like a laptop stand packed away in its neoprene case - more like a tablet or some other piece of handheld tech.
It took a few moments of pulling and prodding to work out how to set it up. The design is quite remarkable. Like a transformer, it expands out from a compact rectangle into a sturdy laptop stand that can - I was pleased to discover, hold even my sizeable 15.4" Dell. In fact according to the specs, it can happily hold laptops of up to 17".
You simply slide out the two side 'wings', pull the back stand out, slot it into place, then flick down the front ledge and hey presto, your screen should now be at eye-level. Goodbye tech neck!
A few benefits I noted:
- No overheating - my Dell is, I think, going through its digital menopause. At the merest hint of a warm day the fan goes into overdrive trying to prevent the whole thing from overheating. When it does, it completely shuts down, taking with it whatever unsaved document I was working on at the time. So I was particularly taken with the Slim Cool's minimalist design with big gaps at the back for good airflow to keep my laptop cool (hence the name).
- Stylish - as previously mentioned, it comes all neatly slotted together in a stitched black neoprene case. It looks good. So good that you half expect it to do more than simply hold your laptop.
- Portable - all the parts slot together beautifully so you can slip it into the front pocket of your laptop bag without taking up too much space and hardly adding any weight to your load at all.
- Ergonomic - of course, the main benefit of the Slim Cool is that it brings your laptop screen up to eye-level, reducing the risk of bad neck, back, or shoulders. I am noticeably more comfortable working at my desk (which is great as 99.9% of my workload requires using a computer).
- Quality - the build quality is superb. Despite having moving components that flick out and click back in again, it all feels very robust and I don't feel nervous about putting my laptop on it. Even if my laptop was brand new top of the range (which it really, really isn't), I'd trust the Slim Cool to support it properly.
You will of course need a compact keyboard and mouse to go with your Slim Cool Laptop Stand. It's not easy or advisable to type almost vertically. That's where Posturite's laptop bundles come in handy. These offer everything you need for ergonomic laptop use in a nifty package.
Perhaps the only downside of the Slim Cool is its rather hefty price - but then again think of all the physio sessions you'll be avoiding.