Laptops need to change

Congrats! You are a digital nomad!

Modern laptops are unusable. Spending more than a couple of hours on a laptop leads to neck or back pain. At first, it’s just uncomfortable, but then it becomes unbearable. The laptop forces you to hunch over it while you’re supposed to be sitting straight.

Your neck, wrists or back will eventually be hurt. For me, it was the neck. I just had to come up with something, or I couldn’t work. The display should be at eye level so my neck wouldn’t be under constant tension, which causes pain after a while.

There’s no such problem with desktop computers. There are monitors on a stand, and some people treat themselves with monitor arms. But I didn’t want to bind myself to just one workplace — that was the reason I bought a laptop in the first place.

I like working in coffee places sometimes. I wanted to stay mobile, and I wanted to work from the same computer at home and work. And then I found the solution: a laptop stand. There are plenty of them. I started with a cardboard one.

Cardboard laptop stand
Laptop on stand

It does the job and you can do it yourself in 15 minutes.

The more sophisticated one is Roost Stand, from a former aerospace engineer. It can hold up to 20 kilograms, or 44 pounds. I upgraded to it after a while.

Roost Stand

This solution comes with a price: You can’t use the laptop’s keyboard and touchpad anymore. You have to buy an external keyboard and external mouse/trackpad. In addition to the laptop and power brick, here is what you end up with:

  • laptop stand.
  • Bluetooth mouse (can be less weird than mine).
  • Bluetooth keyboard.

You end up with 1 pound (or ~500 grams) more in your backpack. You have to carry two keyboards and two pointing devices if you want to be fully mobile. Soon I realized that I do not usually work at home, and left all but my laptop at the co-working place.

Laptop vendors do not seem to care or even notice this problem. But the problem exists. I’ve been at the same coworking space for a while, and within three months three people asked me about the laptop stand and where to get it — and two of them eventually got it.

The laptop form factor is old. It’s the same screen plus keyboard booklet that it was 40 years ago. I think it’s time to come up with something new. The manufacturer that will invent a new design can be a true pioneer.

I will review more solutions and suggest my own in a separate post. Stay tuned!