back to article iPad users 'risk shoulder pain', say US gov, Microsoft boffins

Boffins employed by the US Department of Environmental Health and Microsoft (among others) say that users of tablet computing devices – an area almost completely dominated at the moment by Apple's iPad, selling in unbelievable numbers – run a more serious risk of "neck and shoulder discomfort" compared to people using normal …


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  1. Lloyd

    Shoulder strain?

    I would have though wrist strain more likely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shoulder strain?

      If it's only shoulder strain I suspect the research didn't cover all use cases....

      Or 16-24 year old males were under-represented...

      1. nexsphil


        So on our 25th birthday we suddenly lose interest in porn? I mean people who watch porn lose interest in it. Twisted, sad, lonely people. Apparently.

        1. ItsNotMe

          "So on our 25th birthday we suddenly lose interest in porn?"

          What has this got to do with porn?

          1. Archimedes_Circle

            Apparently there's more than we thought!

            Clearly a (E)UNIX guy.

  2. Ralph B

    So, what you really need ...

    So, if I understand the final paragraph correctly, what you really need is a 2nd iPad to act as a bluetooth keyboard and touchpad to the main iPad "screen". Have I got that right?

    1. Anonymous Coward 15

      There's an Android app

      that lets me use my phone as a gamepad for my tablet when I play SNES games on it.

      1. Local Group
        Paris Hilton

        Non-touch screen touching

        my iPad works best when i am prone on my back holding the tablet over my head with my left hand. My right hand is then free for page-changing, scrolling, button-touching or any other touching which may be necessary.

  3. Tim Greenwood

    Or maybe...

    get the screen on a stand at a steep angle and mounted high up so the veiwing angle is horizontal, put an input device level and lower down in front of you and keep the actual workings out to one side where the weight, heat and noise from it doesn't affect you. You could even have a smaller separate input device at the side of the main input device and use that for manipulating images on the screen so that you don't haver to bend forwards.

    I think I have just invented the PC, I wonder if it's too late for the patent ?

    1. Balefire

      Nah - read the last paragraph. El Reg beat you to it and your claim of inventing it first is an obvious IP theft. Please do not move from your current location - a crap team of FBI agents are en route to escort you to gitmo.

  4. dogged


    The subtext throughout all of this is "Microsoft disses iPad". Which is not actually accurate, is it?

    El Reg is trolling.

    1. hplasm

      Fair and balanced reporting!

      Don't want anyone to think that MS have a monopoly in producing products that are just a pain in the neck...

  5. peter 45


    "So what you really need is some kind of brilliant tablet with a built in case/stand that has a keyboard in it to avoid the input problem "

    Wot? Like the Transformer Tablet with keyboard that I am using to type this on now then? Holds the screen at a good viewing angle, gives you 2 USB ports and extra battery life thrown in and you can close it up to protect the screen.

    Tablet? no thanks.

  6. John Riddoch

    From some very brief experience with a tablet (i.e. I got a Xoom last night...), I'm not overly surprised; tablets do seem to encourage sitting in some odd positions which won't be good for your posture. While a smartphone is relatively light and can be held at a more comfortable angle one-handed, most tablets are a bit heavy to hold one-handed (insert joke here...) so you lean it on a desk/lap and hunch over.

  7. Winkypop Silver badge

    iPad users also risk....

    ....looking like prats.

    Mine's the one with the iPhone in the pocket.

    Ah, here it is.

  8. Balefire

    No shit, Sherlock

    in other news, eating too much chocolate make you fat and sitting at a computer incorrectly will get almost exactly the same results.

    Another useless government group (with private sponsorship) trying make news out of nothing. Why were Apple and Microsoft singled out in this report? Is it because Apple sell more tablets than anyone else and Microsoft are becoming a pointless relic trying to justify their existence?

    Yes I have an iPad2 - would have bought a Transformer Prime instead if it didn't have the GPS/Wifi issues.

    1. Armando 123

      "Another useless government group (with private sponsorship) trying make news out of nothing."

      Just me, or as anyone else ready for another winter at Valley Forge?

  9. Paul F


    Because books have been so terrible ergonomicslly.

    1. Cazzo Enorme

      You regularly type into a book?!?

      1. jai

        no, but you read a book in exactly the same back/neck/shoulder position as you do when you use a tablet. Or rather, the otherway round, we use tablets like that, because that's what we've become accustomed to be comfortable from years of reading books (which in many cases of hardback editions, are bigger, bulkier and heavier than a tablet, and so more dangerous).

        ergo: US Govt is recommending the burning of books for your own health

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    None of the four scenarios studied are representative of my typical web surfing position, which entails lying on the sofa, with the TV on (my wife watching something rubbish usually).

    1. Jedit

      Your scenario is a statistical outlier

      Most of us don't lie on the sofa, with the TV on our wife, watching something rubbish.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        You should try it. Comfy and warm.

        1. BorkedAgain

          It's true...

          ...I frequently lie on the sofa with the TV on your wife, and it's lovely and snug.

  11. Doug 3

    beginning of the iPad version of MS "Get The Facts" campaign?

    this read 'paid Microsoft research' all over it. Besides, Bill Gates had been trying to get the world+dog to use Windows based cement blocks of slablets for years and those things weighted way more than todays iPad or Android versions. So why is this _new_ research is just now being done? Oh wait, Microsoft has nothing to compete with but is telling everyone they will, real soon now, so they're attempting to slow the expansion of the existing devices so there's hope of them selling a dozen WinPads come Dec 2012.

    Smells like the old business practices are MS are still being read off the stone tablet they were written on so many years ago.

    nuclear because they've already been failing in a big way.

    1. dogged

      If that was the case, they wouldn't be endlessly talking about MS-powered tablets which are tablets and therefore suffer from all the same issues. This was a whole bunch of ergonomics guys from many companies (the only one of which mentioned is Microsoft because that's good troll-bait) in a government sponsored study.

      Sounds like somebody fell for El Reg's troll.

      Fail for you.

      1. hplasm


        barking at the mirror again?

        1. dogged

          Merely pointing out the blindingly obvious logical fallacy in the previous poster's paranoia.

          You don't use FUD to criticize a form-factor you want to own.

      2. BitDr

        The poster is aware MS wants to sell tablets...

        The poster is aware MS wants to sell tablets and demonstrated this by writing;

        "Oh wait, Microsoft has nothing to compete with but is telling everyone they will, real soon now, so they're attempting to slow the expansion of the existing devices so there's hope of them selling a dozen WinPads come Dec 2012."

        Which acknowledges that MS wants to sell tablets, and points out this could be mild FUD to slow down sales of existing tablets.

  12. robin penny

    So how does that compare with reading a book? Portrait orientation not tested.

    Interesting. So how does that compare with reading a book? I was considering buying a tablet for ergonomic reasons (to read .PDF files, documents & surf) as I thought it was supposed to be more natural, looking down at something when reading.

    Does it mean tablets need to get lighter, or gain a spine like a book perhaps, making it easier to prop up on your lap, or cup in your hand at a more vertical angle

    Actually I notice the study only covers use in landscape orientation (possibly because it wasn't very practical to use the Xoom - widescreen tablet in portrait format?), As a result I think the study misses an important conlusion - in portrait format I think you would be much more likely to hold the screen at better angles. So this seems to be yet another reason why 4:3 tablets are better than widescreen ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "possibly because it wasn't very practical to use the Xoom - widescreen tablet in portrait format?"

      Are you saying that they didn't use the Xoom as a landscape tablet is less comfortable to hold than a 4:3 tablet, as it would be heavier, due it's increased length? That would make sense if it weren't for the fact that, according to the survery itself, the Xoom is a mere 8mm longer than the iPad.

      Perhaps you can explain a little better?

      1. robin penny

        Widescreen tablets generally not considered very paractical in potrait

        It seems to be generally accepted that widescreen tablets are less practical for portrait use and here isn't really the place to go into detail (Google it), but have you ever seen a picture of a widescreen tablet being used in portrait orientation?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sampling Group

    Just curious, if the average shape of the sampling group was more like a pear?

    Using both (an iPad and a Laptop) when traveling/working/relaxing. I can see where fatigue could set in. Not unlike carpal tunnel syndrome, or if the reading audience is old enough TMJ ( from chewing gum).

    If you use "any device" too long in anyone position something is at risk of getting strained.

    Also what I have noticed is that the more I exercise, less feel fatigued when you using either device for long periods of time.

  14. Bear Features

    This article about about tablets... was it written so the line: "an area almost completely dominated at the moment by Apple's iPad, selling in unbelievable numbers" could be inserted? When we mention cars do we talk about which car maker has sold the most? No... therefore this is just another excuse to say Apple Apple Apple...

  15. Adam T

    They'll be advising people to stop Stargazing next.

    Nanny state politics, with added corporate interest. Not missing the fact that Microsoft are probably feeling left out in the cold because they've as yet failed to capitalise on the tablet market.

  16. Frank Bitterlich

    Shirley it must be a subsidiary...

    ... of the Department for the Bleeding Obvious, that "US Department of Environmental Health and Microsoft", right?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing new, here

    The researchers have discovered nothing new. The bondage protagonists of Japan have long, long since known that the position known as ebi, or shrimp, causes 'burning sensations in the upper back' if practised over long periods. Since this is the classic iPad operating position, with the exception of having the hands free to fondle, then one would expect the same result. So we can expect the Japanese bondage masters to add an iPad to the setup for additional torment

    1. Local Group
      Paris Hilton

      The iPad operating position

      It's just like the Missionary position, except you duct tape an iPad, with a blow-up of Paris Hilton's tounge emerging from her lips, to the face of your partner.

  18. GotThumbs

    Hah! US Lawyers will be salivating..

    I would love to see Apple get sued over this. I just read about the hordes of cash they have...and still haven't announced if they will pay dividends to their investors.

    Keep the money for payouts Apple.

  19. cortezcortez

    What a ridiculous load of crap

    Reminds me of a similar report last year which warned of a hidden time bomb of neck problems on a massive scale from the use of phones, tablets et al. That's funny: centuries of looking down at books hasn't rendered us all cripples in neck braces.

  20. John Tserkezis

    Who says you can't get a sore shoulder on a desktop?

    It was a major issue at one of my old jobs. I called it "Internet Shoulder".

    Owing to the vast amounts of time I spent wasting^H^H^H^Hresearching on the net...

  21. atomic jam
    Thumb Up

    They could go hands free with... of these

  22. Anonymous Coward

    How much money...

    .. was wasted on doing this research? How much of the considerable IQ of the boffins was squandered on this banality? Why have el Reg wasted our time with something any moron could figure out for themselves?

    Millions wasted on marketing for a lame Company... May be they should spend their money on producing a product people will actually buy instead of wasting it on lame backhanders at competitors.

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