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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

Article Contents


When using the laptop, the communicator, or handheld computer, a person’s work posture can place a lot of stress in the back, in some parts of the upper limbs, and in the eyes. Therefore, those devices should be developed so that they are more ergonomically correct for a person’s back, upper limbs, and eyes. The usability of these devices should be further studied during their development process.


In conclusion, it can be stated that 72% of the subjects mentioned that the laptop was fairly or pretty well ergonomic, 12% mentioned that the communicator was fairly ergonomic, and 80% mentioned that the handheld computer was fairly or more ergonomic. Based on the subjects’ experiences, the handheld computer and the laptop were more ergonomic than the communicator. When using the laptop, our researcher observed that the subjects’ work posture placed the most stress load on the neck, back, and shoulders. When using the communicator, our researcher observed that the subjects’ work posture placed the most stress load on the back, fingers, and eyes. With the handheld computer, our researcher observed that the subjects’ posture placed the most stress load on the eyes. In the typing tests, the subjects wrote more with the laptop than with the other devices. The differences of typing characters were significant. However, our analysis was based on only the 25 subjects’ tests. In the future it is important to take into account ergonomic issues and the ergonomic differences of mobile devices, e.g., laptop stresses a person’s neck most and the communicator stresses a person’s back most.

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