The netbook is a miracle and increasingly, I find that it is really a great thing to have around, ever since embarking on my quest to find out whether a netbook can be used as a main computer. So far, it has been great, except for a few annoyances, such as having a small screen, or occasional slowdowns when trying to do too much. As Sisoft Sandra exclaimed, I’m using 75% of my physical RAM and 80% of my paging file! And that’s without running too many things out of the ordinary. Perhaps it’s because of the increasing bulk of software these days – Firefox is fat, your antivirus program is fat and even Explorer is obese. But besides this, I have little qualms, especially since I can take the computer around to wherever I want without having to worry about battery power.
However, long hours using a netbook on the desk is a bit taxing on the body. For one, most laptops are integrated machines, whereby every peripheral is placed into a single unit. That includes the monitor, keyboard, mouse and the other innards. And if you’ve noticed, using a netbook requires you to tilt the screen quite significantly backwards, as opposed to a desktop monitor or a laptop with a fat base and larger monitor. The corollary lies in the fact that with the screen tilted far backwards, your head would be positioned in a way whereby it is ‘staring down’ on the netbook. Or you would be hunched downwards to lessen the ‘staring down’ syndrome. Either way, one part of your body has to ‘give’ and tilt forwards to look at the laptop in a diagonal line.
From a physiological point of view, you’ll want the screen to be further away and level with your eyes. In this case, you won’t be straining your spine and neck with the weight of your head, because when the centre of gravity of the head is in front of your shoulders, you start putting strain on these two structures. But the problem lies in the fact that a netbook (or any other notebook) has its keyboard attached to the display, therefore, you are stuck having to adapt your posture to it, rather than the other way round, and it is also because of this that almost always, your posture will not be ideal.
You can’t merely put a pile of books on the netbook and raise the display up to eye level. That won’t work because you’ll have problems typing without having to support the weight of your hands. And particularly with a netbook, you can’t slope the netbook’s base diagonally to raise the height of the display, because you’ll have to slope it very steeply, given the size of a netbook.
The best way to make the netbook a main computer that doesn’t harm you day-by-day is to adopt the use of an external keyboard and mouse, or an external monitor. Either one of this will separate the keyboard, mouse and monitor, giving you greater flexibility towards getting the right posture.
Since most external monitors are perched on a stand a few inches off the surface, that immediately allows you to view the monitor at eye-level. And at the same time you will gain other benefits such as greater resolution so you don’t have to deal with a tiny screen. In fact, I’d recommend this route because of the greater productivity benefits and with a dual-monitor setup, you can do a lot more than you can with a single screen.
Of course, if you choose the alternative route, which is the one whereby you use an external keyboard and mouse, you will not gain the same benefits as having a separate monitor, but you can easily stack the netbook on a pile of books or build your own netbook stand to elevate the display to eye-level. Given the limited USB slots, however, what I’d recommend is a keyboard + mouse combo receiver, that way you can work wirelessly and keep clutter out of your desk, while only needing to take up one USB slot. A side note is that with a wireless keyboard/mouse, you can use your netbook in more places. I periodically use my netbook in bed to surf, and it works when you have a wireless mouse.
Watch this little video for a quick explanation:
What is Netbookist?At Netbookist, we're commited to finding out the limits of a netbook, especially in gaming. We're also interested in optimization, tweaking, and pushing the netbook to the cutting edge.
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