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A Comparison of the Usability of a Laptop, Communicator, and Handheld Computer

Piia Suomalainen, Leena Korpinen, and Rauno Pääkkönen

Journal of Usability Studies, Volume 5, Issue 3, May 2010, pp. 111 - 123


The goal of this study was to examine the usability of a laptop, communicator, and handheld computer using test subjects and questionnaires. The study aimed to determine how user-friendly and ergonomically correct these devices are. The subjects (25) had 5 minutes to perform typing or calculation tests with each device. While the subjects performed the tasks, an observer monitored the subjects’ work posture. After the tasks were completed, the subjects completed questionnaires about the usability of each device Based on the subjects’ experiences, the handheld computer and laptop had better ergonomic characteristics than the communicator. Subjects felt the highest amounts of stress in their neck while working on the laptop, subjects felt stress on their backs while working on the communicator, and they felt stress in their eyes while working on the handheld computer. Subjects performed the typing tasks best using the laptop. Our research suggests that companies developing mobile devices should consider ergonomic issues and the ergonomic differences between different types of mobile devices to further improve user satisfaction.

Practitioner’s Take Away

The following were the main findings of this study:

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A Comparison of the Usability of a Laptop, Communicator, and Handheld Computer