Goodbye Aching Neck: A Practical Test of Two Notebook Stands

The steadily growing number of mobile computers has led to a similarly growing number of "road warriors" complaining of neck and back pain. Who among us hasn't seen one of our bent-necked colleagues slouched over a notebook until they're almost hanging right over the unit?

An upright sitting position takes a considerable load off of the spine and discs.

There are some practical reasons why this bad posture occurs. Traditional monitors are mounted on a stand that allows the user's gaze to be level with the display. In the case of notebooks, however, the lower edge of the display is nearly on the table. For that reason, laptop owners generally find themselves looking downwards while working.

Not only does this lead to an unattractive double chin, it causes tension and pain in the neck and shoulder region. What's worse is that sooner or later, the classic "student's slouch" will also result in intense back pain. The reason is that this position is 90 percent more stressful on the discs of the spine than standing.

The problem is: who can work at the office in a standing position, for example, behind a podium? Sitting upright is a good compromise. In this case, the strain on the spine and discs is "only" 40 percent greater than in a standing position. But it is practically impossible to look at the screen while maintaining this posture, because the laptop is usually sitting on a table or desk.

Help is on the way for these problems, say the makers of notebook stands - like Kensington's Laptop Desktop USB or Ambir's Xbrand 360° Laptop Stand. These stands enable the laptop to be positioned in a more ergonomically correct fashion.

But before we turn our attention to the notebook accessories themselves, we want to delve into how a laptop, or more precisely its monitor, should be positioned in accordance with the conventional wisdom of ergonomics. Naturally, the following statements apply to the positioning of a standard PC monitor as well.

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