An ergonomic evaluation comparing desktop, notebook, and subnotebook computers

G.P. Szeto, R.Y.W. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To evaluate and compare the postures and movements of the cervical and upper thoracic spine, the typing performance, and workstation ergonomic factors when using a desktop, notebook, and subnotebook computers. Design: Repeated-measures design. Setting: A motion analysis laboratory with an electromagnetic tracking device. Participants: A convenience sample of 21 university students between ages 20 and 24 years with no history of neck or shoulder discomfort. Intervention: Each subject performed a standardized typing task by using each of the 3 computers. Main Outcome Measures: Measurements during the typing task were taken at set intervals. Results: Cervical and thoracic spines adopted a more flexed posture in using the smaller-sized computers. There were significantly greater neck movements in using desktop computers when compared with the notebook and subnotebook computers. The viewing distances adopted by the subjects decreased as the computer size decreased. Typing performance and subjective rating of difficulty in using the keyboards were also significantly different among the 3 types of computers. Conclusions: Computer users need to consider the posture of the spine and potential risk of developing musculoskeletal discomfort in choosing computers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-532
Number of pages6
JournalArchives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2002


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