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Am I killing my laptop by holding it sideways?
May 25, 2007 4:21 PM   Subscribe

Am I killing my laptop by holding it sideways (like a book)?

I have found I greatly prefer reading long pieces of text on my laptop by rotating the screen 90 degrees and holding the laptop sideways like a book -- with the keyboard and touchpad as the left-hand "page" and the screen on the right. Does this pose any problems for the long-term health of my lappy? I'm particularly thinking about the hard drive -- is it designed to only be operated in a horizontal position? Any other problems I'm not thinking of?

It is an Acer Aspire 5100 running Vista, if that matters.
posted by Rock Steady to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Generally it's fine. You need to watch out for blocking any airflow ports more than anything else. I've been told by many that moving a hard drive while it's spinning is dangerous. While I believe it, the risk must be pretty low since I don't know anyone who ruined a drive that way.

I'd also be careful with any odd stresses you may place on the hinge. Replacing a broken hinge can cost you serious money. And if you do break the hinge you can bust up the cables running through it, possibly damaging the boards it's connected to.
posted by chairface at 4:41 PM on May 25, 2007


For your next laptop, you might want to look into convertible tablet PC's, such as this one.
posted by chairface at 4:44 PM on May 25, 2007


This is one of those interesting questions where the right answer is "probably not," but nobody can give you a 100 percent guarantee, and any trouble you experience might be 100 percent bad (e.g. catastrophic hard drive failure). It's a lot like keeping a gun in the house. "You probably won't shoot yourself in the face, but if you did..."

If your laptop is a name brand, it probably underwent some fairly rigorous testing for real-world user experience (dropping it, spilling stuff on it, etc). Holding it sideways for short-ish periods of time probably won't (there's that phrase) hurt it. But I would recommend some other means of reading text, such as orienting the window from a software perspective, before I would resort to physically turning the hardware over.
posted by frogan at 4:50 PM on May 25, 2007


Regarding the hard drive's orientation: take a look at the huge variety of external hard drive enclosures out there: the majority of them are designed to be placed in your choice of vertical or horizontal mounts, irrespective of which drive you stick in there.

Seconding Chairface's comments about hinge stress, especially if you are holding the LCD side with your hands like a book and being mindful of where your laptop is venting heat. I used an Apple Powerbook sideways for years (laptopping in bed, it was more comfortable for me to rest on my side and prop up the laptop on its end too, heat vent up) but stopped when I got a newer model that vented heat upwards through the keyboard.
posted by jamaro at 5:11 PM on May 25, 2007


You're killing it's soul. It would really rather be working on a farm somewhere.

But hardware-wise, it's dandy. The LCD, HD, and all the other stuff don't care how they're oriented as long as they're only subject to one Earth G at any given time.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:25 PM on May 25, 2007


DAMN! I keep messing up the "its" apostrophe (or lack thereof, more correctly.). Woe is me.
posted by SlyBevel at 5:26 PM on May 25, 2007


Should I have mentioned I'm on Neptune?

Thanks all. I realize I'm not going to get any guarantees, but it sounds like I'm going to be OK (and yes, I am careful about the hinge and the vents). Good point about the HD enclosures, jamaro.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:45 PM on May 25, 2007


Don't jerk it quickly between orientations, though. That spinning hard drive is a gyroscope and will resist changing direction. (You don't have to be ridiculously slow, either. Just gentle.)
posted by mendel at 5:50 PM on May 25, 2007


Something's spinning on there?
posted by wfc123 at 6:40 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Don't fold over the corner of the page to mark your place. Use a bookmark.

Other than that, you'll be fine.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 8:25 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Agree with all the above. Tablet PC's are even made to do the flippy thing while they're running, so you should be ok.

Also agree that if you like using your PC like this, you should look into a tablet PC for your next computer.
posted by ranglin at 2:58 AM on May 26, 2007


Any question about your laptop's health should be a reminder to back up regularly.
posted by theora55 at 7:54 AM on May 26, 2007


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