Computer Desk Accessories: Great Products, Or A Way To Milk More Money From The Consumer?
With what seems like a million new accessories on the market to improve the ergonomics of your computer desk, or to help keep your computer workstation more organized, or to simply make your computer mobile and more versatile, how do you know which ones are junk and which ones are worth buying? Well… that depends completely on you.
Lame answer? Were you expecting a personalized list of important accessories that will be worth their expense? Sorry. That’s not possible. Like the upgrades available on vehicles, some are valuable and used every day, making the driving experience more enjoyable, and some are added only to realize you could have lived without them just as easy. Some people rely daily on their GPS systems, some find them to be a colossal waste of money. Some folks pay extra to have splash guards, others would prefer to spend that money on car washes. Like a car, adding the right accessories to a computer desk depends largely on who will be sitting at the desk.
Let’s start with a basic accessory: the keyboard tray or arm. Do you need it? Yes. Why? Because ergonomics are important. The most likely way to injure yourself while sitting at a computer table (yes, injuries are possible) is by using a keyboard tray in a way that’s not ergonomic or comfortable to your body. Overuse injuries in the wrists and hands can lead to the development of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, a painful condition in the wrist and arms that limits mobility, reduces the amount of weight a person can lift, and can evolve into permanent disability. A keyboard tray slides in and out, allowing you to hide it under the desktop while a keyboard arm adjusts for height and tilt, so that the user can position it correctly (the correct position is a slight tilt, with the entire keyboard slightly below the bend of the elbow). Arms are better than trays. This is the accessory you need, even if you only sit at your computer desk a short time each day.
Next, LCD monitor arms. These are accessories that allow you to mount the flat panel monitors to the wall, to the back of the desk, to the shelf above the desk—basically anywhere you want, to keep the monitor from sitting right in the middle of your desktop, wasting useful work space. Do you need one? Maybe. How do you know if you do? You probably will appreciate a monitor arm if one or both of these conditions apply to you: (1) You find your desk is always cluttered and you could really use more space to organize paperwork, write notes, or could use the space for something else you like to have at your fingertips such as reference books, staplers, a radio, etc; (2) You find that light changes throughout the day cause a glare on your screen. LCD arms tilt and move, so you can easily slide the monitor over a bit rather than spend half the afternoon squinting one eye.
Third, CPU holders. These are shelf-like things that keep your CPU (that big thing that sits by your feet) off the floor and connected to the desk. Do you need one? Maybe. How do you know if you do? You will enjoy having a CPU holder if: (1) You find yourself kicking the CPU (which can damage it) or getting your feet tangled among the mess of cables that come out of the back; (2) Your desk is located in a place where CPUs are hard to secure and can be easily stolen, like in cubicles as opposed to offices; (3) You have a computer workstation on casters and like to, at times, move the desk keeping everything together in one unit without unplugging and making multiple trips; (4) You’re a clean freak and would love to be able to vacuum under the CPU.
As you sit at your computer desk, think about the things that annoy you, and chances are there’s probably an accessory to fix that. If so, that’s the one that’s right for you.