Many of us spend far longer than is sensible sitting down. The effects of a sedentary lifestyle can include both physical problems and a negative effect on mental health.
Add computers into the sedentary mix and there's potential for RSI from overusing mice and keyboards, and back and neck problems stemming from poorly-positioned screens. Given the near ubiquity of laptops, hunching over a screen and keyboard is a reality for many of us.
Clearly we should all be taking steps to create a healthier work environment. One strategy we can employ is to invest in equipment that helps improve the ergonomics of working with computers.
This three-piece ergonomic kit comprises a standard number pad, and a more interesting mouse and keyboard. The mouse's domed design falls into the palm neatly, and there's a long trench on the left side for the thumb. It's made for right-handers. But it's the keyboard that steals the main plaudits. With its split left- and right-hand sections and an angled design that rises to a central point significantly higher than the outer edges, it might take some getting used to. However, it promotes a relaxed wrist and forearm position, and the padded wrist rest adds extra comfort.
The Surface Ergonomic Keyboard is Microsoft's latest ergonomic offering. It has the domed centre and split keyboard common to many ergonomic keyboards, a design that makes for a more comfortable forearm and elbow position than traditional flat keyboards. The number pad is integrated and sits on a flat surface on the right hand side. There's a sizeable wrist rest for added comfort. The keyboard is wireless, and unlike the older Sculpt Ergonomic Desktop it doesn't require a dongle, connecting instead via Bluetooth 4.1.
Ergotron makes a large range of sit/stand desks. The one highlighted here can support dual monitors and has a keyboard stand, but there are plenty of other configurations in a range of sizes, with or without additional work platforms. The Ergotron WorkFit-S 33-341-200 switches between sit and stand positions via a sliding bracket that's built into its spine. It fixes to the front of the desk. This forward position restricts access to the desk area immediately behind it.
The Varidesk ProPlus 30 is a sit/stand desk that incorporates a 30-inch-wide upper platform for a monitor. Two larger sizes have 36-inch and 48-inch platforms. Below this sits a generous area for keyboard and mouse. In the 'sit' position the keyboard stand sits proud on the desk, while the monitor is slightly raised. The Varidesk ProPlus 30 requires 61cm of desk depth.
Logitech's Wireless Trackball M570 is designed to help those who suffer from arm complaints caused by regularly moving a mouse around the desk. Instead of moving the mouse, a ball is rotated under the thumb. The device is sculpted to fit neatly into a palm and has a central scroll wheel. The trackball's form and ball position makes it most suitable for right-handed users. It connects to the PC via a USB dongle.
Working with a laptop flat on a desktop doesn't do anything for your back and neck health. Fortunately there are lots of stands for laptops that aim to deal with this problem. The Targus Ergo M-Pro Laptop Stand can handle laptops with up to 17-inch screens. It has a built-in document holder that sits in front of the laptop keyboard, allowing you to have paperwork readily viewable at a convenient angle. The stand itself can be set at a range of different angles, and it folds flat for easy storage and transportation.
Where other laptop stands can seem chunky, the Roost Laptop Stand is positively svelte. It concertinas down to a closed size of 3.3 by 3.0 by 33 cm and slides into a provided drawstring case so that its 170g of weight should sit in a bag very neatly. Despite its apparent delicacy, the makers say it will take up to 22.6kg (50lbs) of weight. There are three adjustable heights so the laptop screen can be positioned comfortably. The Roost's only restriction is that its front grips can't support laptops with a base that's more than 1.9cm thick.
$74.95 (plus shipping for EU customers)
The Ergo-Q 260 portable notebook stand will hold a laptop at any of five different angles for comfortable screen viewing. A flap at the front will support work papers at a convenient viewing angle, though there's no lip to stop papers sliding forwards. The stand can accommodate laptops with up to 15-inch screens. Its aluminium construction keeps the Ergo-Q 260 reasonably lightweight at 390g, and it folds down to become 7mm thick and only slightly larger than a sheet of A4, making it easy to transport.
The Fellowes Lotus Sit Stand workstation sits on the top of a desk for both seated and standing working. In sitting mode the keyboard is only slightly raised from usual desk height. The stand offers 22 height positions, and its wide lower work platform can accommodate a keyboard and mouse and still leave room for other bits and pieces. The angled back that joins the keyboard and monitor platforms is well suited to propping up paperwork, phone or tablet, and there's a cord management system that routes wires around to the back of the stand.
The Kensington SmartFit Easy Riser is an affordable, no-nonsense stand that can handle laptops with screens between 12 inches and 17 inches. Its basic design doesn't provide a stand for paperwork in front of the keyboard: the laptop keyboard is visible, but that doesn't mean it's usable, and a separate keyboard will still be required. The stand folds flat, although at 710g this capability is more likely to be used for storage than transportation.