Keep Your Eyes Open
One of the stock questions I went around asking vendors as I began researching this article was why so much attention was paid to mice and keyboards by peripherals manufacturers and so little on other ways to help users. Microsoft replied that “desks, chairs, and other office equipment are certainly important, but fall outside of our focus area.”
Certainly, many companies make a range of ergonomic products. 3M does everything from an upright mouse that looks like a joystick to foot rests to task lighting. Fellowes covers keyboard trays and drawers, monitor supports, back supports, and much more. Of course, I had one good ergo candidate right under my nose (literally) and didn’t realize it under late in the game.
“Logitech offers a range of products to improve comfort, most of which focus on improving the comfort of laptop computers, since they are now the platform of choice for the vast majority of computer users,” noted Logitech ergonomist, Sylvain Sauvage. “Think about use in a structured computing environment, like at a desk or the kitchen table. Logitech's line of laptop risers—the Alto series and the N110—help to position the notebook screen closer to the eye level, reducing neck flexion and thus fatigue. Also, when used with an external keyboard, which we recommend, the laptop riser also helps ensure that the proper arm distance is maintained between the user and the keyboard."
I was able to try out Logitech’s MK605 notebook kit ($100), which includes a notebook stand along with a compact wireless keyboard and mouse. As ergonomic devices go, I confess I wasn’t overly impressed with the peripherals (can’t you at least do a wave design on a compact keyboard?), but the stand was awesome. It folds up flat for easy tucking into a notebook bag, features rubberized feet to prevent skidding, and sets into any of several height/angle positions to accommodate your notebook size and desk orientation. The keyboard and mouse are okay, and they are decently compact for travel, but I wish the stand were available separately.