How to use a tablet comfortably?

Discussion in 'The Tablet PC Life' started by davidd31415, Jun 27, 2009.

  1. davidd31415

    davidd31415 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    I am thrilled with the Dell Latitude XT I picked up not too long ago but I have noticed that it can sometimes be difficult to find a comfortable position to use the tablet in.

    Often I would like to use the tablet on my desk as if it were a notepad but I usually find that the desk surface is just a few inches to high to do this comfortably. I've tried using my keyboard tray but this is too low.

    I'm thinking it might make sense to mount a small tray to the armrest of my chair. If the tray was on an articulating arm such that I could swing the laptop in/out from the chair and move it up/down a bit that would be ideal.

    I've seen desktop stands which look like they might offer some comfort.

    One position I find myself continuously returning to is placing the laptop in tablet orientation and then raising up the screen about 20 to 30 degrees. The only drawback here is that the power cord is now in the front of the tablet, not the best location. A second power port would have been awesome.


    Maybe there is a better solution. Any comments?

    Thanks.
     
  2. leaftye

    leaftye Old timer Super Moderator

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    For too high tables I'll either use my other forearm to prop up the tablet or I'll just put the tablet in my lap. With the former I usually only write on the bottom of the screen, and with the latter I mostly write on the top.
     
  3. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    You could scoot back from the desk a bit and rest the top of the tablet (in slate mode) on the desk while the bottom sits in your lap. That would help provide a nice angle.
     
  4. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Your question is one of the keys to happiness in this day and age where people spend so much time at computers. --I've seen people destroy their backs and arms etc., simply from having their computer set at an awkward position in the office or at home.

    For a tablet PC, this problem has a couple of added dimensions. Writing "clip board" style is convenient when you're walking around needing to take notes, but if you want to settle in and do a few hours of work, then. . , not so much.

    Using a tablet on a desk is a natural desire for many users, I would suspect, and for people who use their tablets for drawing and painting, etc., the need to address this can be even greater. My solution was to build a small wooden skirt around the tablet so that the screen was flush with the table surface. Hard to explain. Easier to show. . .

    [​IMG]

    The computer is placed on the table surface and the skirt dropped over top so that it looks like this. . .
    [​IMG]

    The computer face is now flush with the table surface. Reminds me of animation light boxes I've used. There is lots of breathing room under the skirt and a direct route to the fan air intake so as to avoid overheating problems. The only grievance I have is when I want to change an SD card or plug in some other device. Then it's like opening up the hood of a car. Fortunately, this doesn't happen often. One of the aspects about the computer used here, (a Portege M200) which lends itself well to this kind of setup is that it has no native CD/DVD drive built in, which would be a high-annoyance to use. Instead I have an external drive plugged in via USB and set off on a table to one side. This arrangement works well.

    [​IMG]

    Above is a shot of the battered and much loved corner of my studio where I've clocked a bazillion hours. It's important to be comfortable, or you'll ruin your back and shoulders. --Note the giant screen mounted to the drafting board. I used to use that with my old Wacom tablet (the kind which isn't also a computer screen but which, ten years ago, seemed pretty magical nonetheless!). --I've found that I only very rarely turn that big screen on anymore, though it does sometimes come in handy when working with reference materials. --Or watching the occasional movie with the GF after hours. :)

    Simplicity and a low physical profile are important to me, so I picked up a little Mac keyboard. Nobody makes chic and tough computer accessories quite the way Apple does! :) I thought the position of the keyboard would cause problems and I spent a fair bit of time worrying over how to solve this bit of ergonomics, but as it turns out, it wasn't an issue in the slightest. My arms naturally straddle the screen as I type so all I lose of the screen is the top left and right hand corners. It simply hasn't been an issue, and it feels very natural to use, looking down between my arms as I type. --When using Photoshop keyboard shortcuts, I just slide the keyboard to the left and use that hand while I draw with the right. Having an adjustable height chair is also useful in getting the perfect angle.

    The skirt is just built using some quarter inch flooring boards mounted to a couple of short bars of wood cut to the right height. I used a simple coping saw to cut out the screen shape. All in all, it was a very simple project, and since I'm not a carpenter, "simple" was the right skill-level for me!

    Cheers!

    Interested in seeing the comic book results of all this hardware tinkering? Please invite yourself on over to I Box Publishing
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
  5. davidd31415

    davidd31415 Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Looks like an awesome solution to the problems tablets bring on desktops. I'll be setting something similar up over here.

    Thanks!

    David
     
  6. DRTigerlilly

    DRTigerlilly Tablet Lead Mod (Retired) Super Moderator

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    that is definitely awesome, makes me wish i had some woodworking skills :)
     
  7. pastorbbc

    pastorbbc Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Wow -- that is a great set up. Thanks for sharing and for the ideas.
     
  8. JordanN

    JordanN Pen Pal - Newbie

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  9. Flybane

    Flybane Tablet Convert

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    @thatcomicsguy,

    I just realized that your desktop pattern mimics the desk, LOL!
     
  10. goshawk

    goshawk Pen Pal - Newbie

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    Here's my workstation in my home studio, where I spend most of my life. I'm using a Jellyfish laptop stand (I purchased in London a few years ago). It is sturdy and you can adjust the angle.

    [​IMG]

    I like having a secondary monitor for reference material while I'm drawing, as well as a traditional typewriter copy stand. The external keyboard and mouse are on the lower tray so they can be pushed out of the way when not needed.

    http://www.sevenextraordinarythings.com/
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 18, 2015
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