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Tech review: multi-tasking with the Mukava digital reading table

The modern office worker multi-tasks like no other office worker has ever multi-tasked before. 

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At any given moment she could be working on spreadsheets between her dual-screen computer monitors, receiving emails on her laptop, jotting down notes with her tablet, tracking her health stats with various wearables and having the odd glance at social media on her phone.

The array of digital tools we all use on a daily basis is growing, but with this spike in multimedia multi-tasking comes a big problem.

This problem has been dubbed 'tech neck' (we've blogged about it before, you can read about it in more depth here). Some of our devices - namely tablets, smartphones and laptops, are designed in such a way that we're forced to adapt our own posture in order to use them.

We're all guilty of it. I've often found myself hunching over with my head hanging forwards and my shoulders rounded as I consume news or answer messages on my smartphone.

Paradoxically it's the devices designed to increase our productivity that are in fact stalling it.

What damage is handheld tech doing to my body?

tech-neck-weightsAccording to American spine surgeon Dr. Jeffrey Reuben, the average upright head puts about 10-12 lbs of weight on its supporting structures. When tilted down at a 15 degree angle, that weight becomes the equivalent of around 27 lbs. At 45 degrees, the weight becomes 49 lbs and finally at 90 degrees, it grows to about 60 lbs.

That's the equivalent of hanging four bowling balls off your neck - every time you look down at your phone. Over long periods of time this puts huge pressure on the spine and can cause problems like slipped discs, sciatica, pain in the shoulders, neck and wrists, nerve problems, numbness and tingling, and kyphosis (when the back becomes permanently hunched).

The Mukava table: bringing your technology up to eye-level

mukava laptop tablet

Now a company in America has created an adjustable reading table to try to combat this side-effect of the digital age by bringing our handheld tech up to eye-level.

There are three different models of the Mukava, all of which have the same surface. They only vary depending on their fixings:

  • MK-50 (to be attached to an existing monitor arm)
  • Mk-75 (clamps to your desk or to wall)
  • MK-150 (freestanding)

I'm trialing the MK-75 and, seeing as my desk is in the centre of the office with no wall to drill into, I've opted to clamp it to the back of my desk (you can check out a review of the DeskRite 500 sit-stand desk I'm clamping it to here).

Looks

8/10 - Futuristic and eye-catching but not customisable

The Mukava table is a fairly large addition to my desk but, thanks to the attractive design (which reminds me a little of the cute, hoppy desk-lamp in the Pixar title animation), it manages to be a rather nice-to-look-at addition.

mukava looks2

 

It only comes in one colour combination: a cream back with a matte silver surface and chrome-look edging. It is a slight shame that you cant opt for your favourite colour, or a different finish. Still, most people aren't going to mind about this. It looks smart and it's a small compromise for the ergonomic benefits this product offers, which I'll get to later.

It's not the two-dimensional paper-thin surface we're all used to when it comes to technology. But this is because the head houses two USB ports for charging your devices and plugging in the handy LED light that comes with it. More importantly, the surface needs to be strong and durable enough to support the weight of your books and devices.

Good design has to balance looks with functionality, and the Mukava certainly makes up for any (minor) aesthetic shortfalls when it comes to usability and convenience.

Assembly

10/10 - Effortless

You really don't need a toolbox and a mechanic's certification to assemble this reading table. The MK-75 comes in two parts: the clamp, and the adjustable arm already attached to the surface itself.

All you need to do is attach the two parts and turn the knob to clamp the whole device to your desk (the instruction manual included explains it more eloquently).

This simple clamp system is great as it means you can try out a few locations for your Mukava to find the most convenient spot.

It also comes with an array of alan keys and other bits and bobs for screwing to a wall if preferred.

Usability

9/10

To adjust the position of your Mukava, you simply release the tension with the alan key included.

The arm is highly adjustable so you can twist it, tilt it and turn it to find the ideal position for you. My desk is already busy with two computer monitors, my telephone, document holder and various devices and papers, so I was pleased with how easy the Mukava is to manipulate into various positions to fit around my existing set-up.

The product comes with three so-called 'Mukava pads'. These are flat, bendy black pads which are magnetic on one side (for securing to the Mukava surface) and covered in 'micro suction-cups' on the other. This allows you to stick your digital devices to the Mukava so you can use them at eye-level.

Ergonomics

10/10 - Say goodbye to tech neck 

Like all good ergonomic designs, the Mukava has been built to slide seamlessly into our natural day-to-day lives. The surface is large enough to fit paper documents, a tablet and your smartphone so you can bring all of your reading materials up to eye-level to avoid the dangerous hunch-over position that leads to musculoskeletal pains.

Now I can elevate my smartphone to the same height as my computer screens, so if I need to switch between the two I just need to turn my head, not hang it. The spacious surface also functions as a place to stick memos, lists and other odd bits of paper I might otherwise lose, and it can even be folded back to make more room on my desk if needed.

All in all the MK-75 has proven to be a useful tool in my day-to-day workflow. The sort of tool that, once you have, you wonder how you did without.

Browse all Mukava products here.