Design

Fasten Your Seatbelts, We’ll Be On The Ground Shortly

Using a ThinkPad on an airplane is obviously a common occurence for anyone who owns one. Unfortunately, air travel and notebook computers don't always mix. Where do you put your computer bag? In the over-head or under the seat in front of you? What if the overhead is full and you have the bulkhead seat? Did I remember to turn off the wireless radio? Is that guy next to me trying to read my e mail? Is she going to pour that drink on my keyboard? My favorite is dealing with the annoying guy who always seems to be in the seat in front of me that insists on slamming his seat into full recline without a care in the world. I like to call this one "The Crusher". Somehow I have managed to avoid having my ThinkPad destroyed by one of these types, but just barely. You need to develop a sixth sense that allows you to anticipate the free-fall and instantly snatch your ThinkPad out of harms way. I recently sat next to a unfortunate who had his notebook helplessly pinned between the tray table and coat hook. I had no idea you could bend a notebook display that far. Several years ago I purchased two rows of coach class airplane seats to help us deal with this topic more effectively. The idea was that we could study the problem using actual seating conditions, rather than debating tray table dimensions and seating geometry. At the time I had no idea how hard it would be to acquire the seats or for that matter getting the spacing right. I certainly got some strange looks the first time I pulled out my tape measure on the plane ride to New York.

The seats have since become an invaluable asset for making design decisions and creating advanced concepts. They have also become quite the conversation piece. Nearly everyone who comes to our lab feels compelled to take them for a spin. For accuracy the seat pockets hold a few motion sickness bags, boring magazines, and pretzel crumbs. In the interest of learning more about how people use their ThinkPad on planes, we've created a short on-line survey that we would like to have you take. We hope to continue using surveys like this, in addition to our polls, to help us refine future products. The link below will take you there. Survey If you would like to receive e-mails about future surveys, please visit our E-mail signup page and make sure to choose "Offers to participate in studies to improve our products." While this page is technically only on our U.S. website, any members of our international audience can submit your e-mail address for these surveys. Please note that they will be English only at this time. Our standard privacy policy applies to these, so you don't have to worry about us abusing your e-mail address.

David Hill

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