Research coming from the US Department of Environmental Health suggests that iPad users run a serious risk of neck and shoulder discomfort if they continue to 'hunch' over their tablet.
The study is entitled Work: A Journal of Prevention, Assessment, and Rehabilitation and took into account the opinions of 15 “experienced tablet users”, having got these users to do a number of simple computer tasks on the iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom. These tasks included internet browsing, reading, playing games, reading and responding to emails, and watching movies.
Each tablet had a proprietary case which could be adjusted to prop up or tilt the tablet, with Apple's Smart Cover allowing viewing angles between 15 and 73 degrees, and Motorola's Portfolio Case supporting angles between 45 and 63 degrees.
Four user configurations were tested: Lap-Hand, where the tablet was placed on the user's lap; 'Lap-Case', with the tablet placed on the lap in its case set at the lower angle setting; 'Table-Case', with the tablet placed on a table with its case at the lower angle; and 'Table-Movie', with the tablet placed on a table with its case at the higher angle. Unsurprisingly, the researchers found the least posture issues when the tablet was in the Tablet-Movie configuration.
"Compared to typical desktop computing scenarios, the use of media tablet computers is associated with high head and neck flexion postures, and there may be more of a concern for the development of neck and shoulder discomfort," said lead investigator Jack T Dennerlein PhD of the US Department of Environmental Health, the Harvard School of Public Health, and Brigham and Women's Hospital.