by Skyshade, South CarolinaOne of the key questions many have when purchasing a laptop is how good the keyboard is. The feel of the keys is one obvious concern, but also important is the layout and the size of the keyboard when you go from one size laptop to another. After all, we all have to type at some point when you use a computer, right? It is only natural to pick the best keyboard out there so we can type in our laptop comfortably.
Ironically, OSHA(Occupational Safety & Health Administration) does not believe laptop keyboards are good for prolonged use because a laptop keyboard is connected to the monitor and therefore creates an awkward sitting position for the users. With more and more companies switching from the combination of desktop and laptop to a laptop plus peripherals setup to save money and increase flexibility (my company being one), the creator of Keynamics laptop stand tries to present a unique solution — a laptop stand that allows the user to use a laptop’s monitor and keyboard in a comfortable sitting, saving the employers even more money by eliminating the cost of external monitor and keyboards. While the current product that I tested does have room for improvement, I must say that this laptop stand indeed makes typing on a laptop a much, much better experience.
As said earlier, the Keynamics laptop stand is designed to address the ergonomic issue with prolonged typing in laptop. A lot of the information for this laptop stand can be found in the designer/manufacturer/seller website, www.laptop-ergonomics.com/index.html, including a good link to OSHA’s recommendation on computer work environment (it is good to review whether you are inadvertently putting yourself in harm’s way once in a while). In here, I am just going to quickly point out some specific features.
From the top, you can see the laptop has an extended, inclined portion for holding the laptop at a tilted angle. This angle raised the keyboard and gives you a more neutral typing position. The back is the weighted end (most of the 8 lb of this stand is here) to support the hung (or cantilever) portion where laptop sits. There are three rubber strips and two rubber leveler (in red circle in the picture below) to prevent the laptop from sliding. There are also two wheels on the back that allow easy lateral movement.
Top view of the laptop stand showing the rubber strips that prevent laptop sliding
From the side, one can get a little bit more feeling on how this laptop stand sits on a desk. Notice the two rubber leveler in the back (right side of the picture) can be lowered to allow different shapes and sizes of port replicators.
Side view of the laptop stand showing the adjustable rear leveler for port replicator
In the bottom view, you can see another rubber strip that prevents the laptop stand from sliding as well as the two large wheels that allow the laptop stand to move laterally (side to side). Obviously, the two will counter each other and you will not able to move the stand laterally if you use it in the cantilever position (with some portion hanging out of the desk, just like the two pictures shown above) unless you lift the tip up enough that the rubber strip no longer touches the desk.
Bottom view of the laptop stand. Notice the wheels and the rubber strip
The design of this laptop stand is quite simple, as you can see, but care has been taken to ensure that the stand not only provides comfort but also is safe enough to use. At 8 lb, this stand is very heavy and most of its weight is concentrated on the back to provide counterweight to the weight of the laptop in the front. My 8 lb Sony GRX-550 sits comfortably in the front section and the entire unit is very stable.
The rubber strips provide excellent amount of friction to hold the laptop and the stand if all the rubber strips are in contact with either the laptop or the desk. The user manual does warn you about some smaller laptops have problem with this universal or one-size-fits-all stand. Indeed, my GRX-550 and Sony S170 have no problem at all maintaining the contact, but the smaller Sony Z505 could not sit very stable in the stand. We will look at that problem in greater details later, but overall I would say this stand is very well built and very safe to use.
The laptop stand is designed to improve the ergonomics of laptop using. How does it do it? Well, a comparison in the pictures below shows how the laptop stand provides better separation between the LCD and the keyboard and lowers the keyboard to a more comfortable position for typing.
GRX-550 without (left) and with (right) the laptop stand
Basically, the laptop has to open wider when it sits on the stand, so the distance between the LCD and the keyboard is a little bit bigger. The stand also raises the LCD and therefore your head level, moving the keyboard to a lower and more neutral position. Note that you can also put the whole stand on the desk (the stand will form an inverted V on the desk and you can slide laterally easily now that the rubber strip on the bottom is not hugging the desk) instead of leaving the inclined edge hanging. Because all the desks and tables at my home are higher than a regular office desk, I did not use the desktop mode at all.
Overall, you will sit straight rather than hunching over, as shown in the picture below.
Better sitting positions by using the laptop stand
As far as improvement in ergonomics goes, I think the laptop stand delivers what it promised. It was pretty much a love at the first type. I reported that to Brian the first night I got the stand and I still enjoy typing with it now. I do feel that I am not fully realizing the potential of this stand because all I have at my home are these uncomfortable wooden chairs or cheap folding chairs that offer no elbow support or reclining at all. In a typical office environment where proper furniture such as a right chair exists, it will be even more comfortable and relaxing when you type because you can recline further.
Having said that, I must point out a very big problem in ergonomics for this laptop stand — it has no space for mouse operation. Yes, I know, it is a laptop stand designed for improving typing ergonomics. I also know there are people who can live just fine with touch point or touch pad. If you are either one of these two types of people, just disregard the mouse comment. For those of you who like or need to use mouse in conjunction with keyboard, you will find that your mouse is even farther away from the keyboard now, which is a big no-no according to OSHA (you feel it too when you stretch yourself trying to get to the mouse on the desk).
One size does not fit all
Obviously, one size cannot fit all and the design team acknowledges that in the user manual. There is a targeted laptop size and, judging by the nice fit of the laptop stand with my GRX-550, I will say the laptop stand is designed with 14″ and 15″ laptops in mind. The 8 lb counterweight of the laptop stand, despite having no problem handling the 8.5 lb GRX-550, also indicates that some 9 lb or 10 lb behemoth is not what this laptop stand aims for.
So what happens when your laptop is slightly off their primary aim? Well, I do not have anything larger than 15″, so I cannot say for sure how the 17″ laptops fit the stand. I think the stand will be narrower than a 17″ laptop because it has a very small margin left when holding my 15″. However, as long as the rubber strips have firm contacts with the laptop, I don’t think it will have much trouble handling a 17″. Smaller laptops, on the other hand, not have enough contact area and actually pose more problems.
I tested this laptop stand with both my S170 (13.3″ wide) and Z505 (12.1″ normal) and the results are quite interesting. As mentioned earlier, one worked fine and the other did not. While I was kind of expecting it (and the user manual said I have problem with ultra-portable), it was still interesting because both S170 and Z505 have almost the same depth, just different width. Supposedly, if one has problem in reaching the support provided by the rear levelers, the other will too, but it did not turn out that way.
Z505 (left) sits loosely while S170 (right) sits tightly on the laptop stand.
As seen in the pictures, neither Z505 nor S170 can touch the rear support. I can type in S170 comfortably, but Z505 just kind of wiggles a little. After some examination, I believe a major reason is the curved shape in the front end of Z505, which prevents Z505 lean against the tip of the laptop stand. The layout on the bottom of the laptop have also contributed, but I couldn’t pinpoint the cause.
Typing in smaller computer is also better, but could use further recline (left). However, some smaller laptop have problem sticking to the stand, as my Z505 with a curved front (right).
In addition to the actual size of laptop that not fit very well with the stand, some other form factors are also worth considering. For example, the shape of the port replicator and where exactly it connects to the laptop also prevent the use of this laptop stand, even though the rear leveler can be lowered for port replicator designed for the back of the laptop. The laptop stand will also have trouble being used in cantilever mode on a desk with round edges (the manual suggests a minimum diameter of curvature of 5 ft).
In summary, the Keynamics laptop stand is well designed and well built for its purpose — improving the ergonomics of typing on laptop. The biggest flaw I can think of is not taking into account the mouse, but perhaps they will just develop a mouse stand to go along with the laptop stand in the future. The other issues arise from the fact that one laptop stand is just not going to fit every laptop out there, which is probably true for any product out there. As a result, I highly recommend this laptop stand people that need to type in their laptops very frequently.
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