IBM notebooks go ergonomic

IBM is tackling one of the biggest gripes of notebook users--that they can present ergonomic problems causing aches and pains--by designing new units that let you disconnect the keyboard and screen so you don't have to crane your neck and type at awkward angles.

Two prototype designs are on display at the TechXNY show here this week. Neither prototype is fully functional, and shipping dates for the devices are not available.

Detachable Device

One prototype is a modified version of the existing ThinkPad T40. This product includes a hinged display that can be elevated as much as three inches, to about the height of a standard monitor, says David Hill, director of design for IBM's Personal Systems Group. In addition, the keyboard can slide forward to increase the angle for more ergonomic data entry.

Hill says the new features add less than a pound--about 13 ounces--to the notebook's weight. A shipping product with the unhinging feature will cost about $150 more; suggested retail price of the ThinkPad T40 is $3249.

The second prototype design includes a detachable wireless keyboard and a display that can be elevated. This device is not based on an existing product.

In the second prototype, IBM is starting with a small-footprint desktop and trying to turn it into a notebook, Hill says. The price and weight of this notebook unit could vary, depending on how many desktop components it includes.

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