I work long hours on my laptop, and by the time I log out, I usually have a good ol’ backache. That’s no mystery—laptops are really not ergonomic, and that’s the reason why they’re not supposed to be used for hours and hours straight. But I’m not some rich kid who can buy a separate PC just to have a more ergonomic set up. I knew I was ruining my posture, and while I didn’t have the money for the most obvious solution, I had to be resourceful and find an alternative.
The problem with a laptop is that there’s really no way to make it ergonomic on its own. Your arms must be L-shaped while typing, and your eyes must look forward into the screen. That’s impossible when the screen and the keyboard are attached to each other. To make things worse, I often use an office desk of the usual height, which means the keyboard is too high for my arms and the screen is too low for my eyes. I unconsciously end up frozen in a hunched position, which I’ve little doubt is too reminiscent of Quasimodo.
I thought of two ways of solving the problem: 1) setting the laptop at the right arm height and then pumping out the video on a separate monitor that’s at eye level, or 2) lifting up the laptop screen at screen at eye level, and then using a separate keyboard at arm height. Since I didn’t have the space for a new monitor, I scrapped the first option out. I’ve seen set ups that involved using a laptop lift/stand, so I thought that might work, but then I realized that my laptop doesn’t open up wide enough for these stands. My laptop’s screen would end up facing downwards.
Luckily, after months of searching, I found the solution: use a DJ laptop stand and a laptop table. The DJ laptop stand will lift my laptop high without demanding that it open as much as the usual stand would, and the laptop table will hold both the stand+laptop and an extra keyboard. Thank God for that DJ laptop stand. I’m no DJ so I don’t really know what they use these stands for, but I sure am glad that they’re there.
So here’s the full list of components:
Got it from Festival Mall for P1k+. There are better ones out there, but I’m on a budget.
It was on sale at Handyman for P400, so I grabbed it immediately. But I think prices are ordinarily around P500. Be warned: a lot of laptop desks that are for sale are for your bed, especially the ones at CD-R King. They’re not what you want if you’re setting up a real workstation. Before you buy, make sure that the laptop desk is the right height for someone seated.
Mine is a very expensive Apple Aluminum Bluetooth Keyboard. It retails for around P5k. I had my reasons for buying it, but most people would be fine with an ordinary USB keyboard. There are some that sell for P200 at CD-R King.
DJ laptop stand
The one I got doesn’t seem to be commercially available here in the Philippines. I bought it from this guy here, who shipped it in from abroad. (Edit 2016/10/05: That link no longer works, but I’ve also found the laptop stand at Lazada.) This model is very sturdy and heavy, and it works great for a semi-permanent set up. If you’re a mobile worker and you want to bring it around, you can get a Stanton Uber Stand, but that’s more than three times the price of mine.
You don’t expect to use the trackpad much in this setup. I already had a wireless mouse which a friend gave me as a gift, so I was good to go. But if you don’t have a mouse yet, CDR-King sells a whole slew of USB optical mice for only P150.
A few more photos: