Some time ago I made a purchase of a very simple piece of office equipment, a notebook computer stand from the appropriately named Standit company. It’s one of the best office equipment purchases I’ve ever made and I felt I should share this information with my fellow home based professionals, with this unsolicited review.

The stand would of course work also in a regular office environment, where as Gartner’s Robin Simpson observed at a conference last week, employees are increasingly going to be bringing their own notebook computers to work.

Now anyone who was either what used to be called a keyboard operator or a manager back in the days of the Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) epidemics knows about ergonomics and the importance of good posture and other good practices in using computers.

And all of us who spend a lot of time at computers know, don’t we, that we should really take care of our posture, get up regularly and stretch, and do all those good things that will prevent us from seizing up?

Take for example this fairly typical, in my experience, set of rules from ergonomic experts:

Maintain proper posture, paying careful attention to positioning of head, neck/spine, arms/wrists, hips/thighs and feet. Basically, ensure the small of your back is supported, your shoulders relaxed (not slumped, not elevated), and that there is no pressure under your thighs.

And that’s just the first of ten bullet points on the subject.

But knowledge does not always translate into action and I confess that, as effectively my own supervisor over my years working from home I have been less than careful about posture, standing up and stretching and all those good things I should do.

The folly of my negligence was brought home to me after a particularly painful session the other week with the masseur, who is trying to unkink my shoulders from the combined effects of rugby football in my youth, a car accident some years ago and more years than I care to recall sitting at a computer. The masseur observed matter-of-factly that computers are very bad for shoulders.

Not rugby, not car accidents. Computers!

I certainly didn’t want to suffer more pain at the masseur’s hands than was absolutely necessary. But recently I had replaced my desktop machine with a notebook and had been told I was hunching over the keyboard even more than previously.

It was clearly time to take some action.

But the actual trigger for my taking action was my discomfort with the way the notebook was heating up and leaving the desk beneath hot to the touch. And a crack had developed in the top of my lovely timber desk. I was not happy.

I did quite a bit of online searching and checked out the local computer supply shops to see what was available in the way of stands for notebooks. Because of the heating problem, I was drawn to ones which had built-in fans. As it turned out, once I found the basic Standit product I could not see a need for the fan.

Indeed, once the notebook was set up on the Standit stand, the heat problem disappeared. Right now, although the machine has been on continuously for the past four hours or so, it is as cool to the touch as if it were not running.

And because I now have to sit up straight and keep my head up in order to read the screen, using the new stand has had a very positive effect on my posture. The bottom of the screen is now some 4″ (25cm) higher than the bottom of a normal desktop screen would be. And I certainly prefer getting back to using a regular desktop type keyboard rather than the very unergonomic, built-in notebook keyboard.

The stand is really simple to set up. I got a bit confused because there were two optional attachments for the setup, but there were actually instructions in the package which explained the options.

The only thing you need to check before ordering is the thickness of the base of your notebook, so that you know whether to order the stand for a 30mm thickness or less or a 36mm thickness or less, which apparently takes care of the range.

Cost was very reasonable. The stand cost AU$37.95 plus shipping $5.50 to the door and I bought a USB keyboard for $23, so all up $66.45, say around US$54. Great value.

After-sales service was good. When I was trying to figure out the setup and not wanting to break anything by forcing it, I left a phone message with the company. Someone rang me back, keen to help solve the problem, which by then I had actually solved.

Standit also have a special IBM ThinkPad mini-dock and another product, with a 4-point USB hub, two cooling fans and more adjustability, the latter at the competitive price of AU$46 (US$37 today). But I don’t feel deprived. The simple Standit stand was just what I needed. And super portable for extended travel, although a travelling (foldable) keyboard would then be needed.

The Standit home office is in Melbourne, Australia, but apparently they ship extensively around the world.

The stand doesn’t do away with the need for me to sit up straight. It means I don’t have to remind myself to sit up.

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