Carrie Schmitz, Manager of Engineering Publications @ Ergotron
I just read a review by Bill Read on Ergotron’s LX Dual Desk Mount Arm at billread.com, Ergotron LX Dual Desk Mount Arm Review.
It was good to know that overall, he found the system “versatile and strong,” the very features that distinguish our products from the competition. And he was right in pointing out that the LX Arm reclaims valuable real estate on a desk; for some people, having a neat, well-organized work environment can alleviate stress and promote productivity (frankly, I’m not one of them).
While gaining desk space is a nice bonus to having an LX arm, the real impetus behind its design is to place notebook and flat panel monitor screens at a viewing height, distance and angle where they will help prevent undue fatigue and strain to the user. Having an advanced understanding of computer ergonomics, Bill took full advantage of the arm’s inherent flexibility to set-up a work station outside the usual recommendations (pigeon hole, in his lingo), but for most people, adding a separate keyboard is the best choice in an office configuration like his.
In his previous blog entry, “Sit Better, See Better”, http://www.billread.com/, Bill corrected some common misconceptions about computer use, provided excellent guidance and referenced the workstation planner on Ergotron’s website as being in line with his experience as a computer consultant.
The very cool thing about the LX arm is that it makes all those ergonomic guidelines achievable! As he said in the review of the LX, “the two arms have a great range of motion . . . swing either of them up and totally out of the way. . . [They] articulate easily, but stay put where you need them to. You can tweak away at display position with little effort.”
The importance of his observations lies in the fact that there is a direct correlation between the range and motion of the LX arm and the height requirements of 90% of people working on computers. Not only that, but the arm can be adjusted according to the size and weight of mounted equipment. This adds up to total customization. I’m not sure that this point was clearly communicated by the product manual, so as the person responsible for its publication I’d like to make amends with an explanation and a fix.
His comment about planning ahead, and thinking about how the arms will articulate is well taken.
In creating instructions, we try to find a balance between too much information and not enough (people don’t tend to like manuals). And because our products are purchased by people across the globe, we try to provide instructions that either require no text (based on the IKEA model), or include multiple languages. That’s why he found three manuals packaged with the LX.
But change is afoot. As part of Ergotron’s green initiative, we have embarked on a project to package a single, quick start “set-up and go” guide which illustrates an overview of the assembly and includes a website address where more comprehensive instructions reside. It’s a rolling change which will affect the LX Series sometime in the next quarter. Cutting down on the number and size of product manuals is a good thing for the environment and should help us avoid any more scenarios where the customer resorts to the “eeny-meeny-miny-moe” method of installation!
If there is one challenge we at Ergotron find most frustrating, it’s that the general public doesn’t often realize that they can tailor their work station to fit their needs. Since they don’t expect their monitor to move up and down 13 inches, pan side-to-side, rotate from landscape to portrait, or tilt with the touch of a finger, they don’t try to do it, and that’s sad, because if you have an LX arm, and you’re not putting it through its paces, you’re missing out on a whole lot of fun.
I have the same product at my desk as Bill, and within the course of a work day, I estimate I’ve moved that monitor in and out of a dozen different positions. This is important, because, as ergonomists will tell you, holding a single posture (static loading) is one of the leading causes of muscle pain among computer users. As the graph below illustrates, the ultimate cost of treating work-related ailments is a burden we all carry.
At Ergotron, we believe that educating people about these risks is our responsibility as a manufacturer. We started the Comfortable Computing Initiative – http://www.computingcomfort.org/ – to share timely information on a variety of ergonomic topics. You’ll find there, a paper I wrote to address the specific ergonomic issues related to notebook PCs. In it I present the three essential components of ergonomic computer use in terms of an equation: Neutral Posture + Voluntary Motion + Routine Rest = Comfortable Computing.
The prevention of work-related conditions which lead to more serious health problems is part of a general campaign for wellness gaining momentum among businesses both in the United States and abroad. As people become aware of the role ergonomics plays in their efforts to remain healthy on the job, we expect their appreciation for the features built-into Ergotron products will expand accordingly.
This process is helped along thanks in part, to the efforts of people like Bill. We appreciate his review of our product, and encourage him to keep us informed of issues that we can use to improve the interface between humans and their machines.
I hope we hear from even more of you soon too.