Holding a tablet computer with one hand: Effect of tablet design features on biomechanics and subjective usability among users with small hands
Ergonomics, Volume 56, Issue 9, Pages 1363-1375. DOI:10.1080/00140139.2013.820844
The purpose of this study was to evaluate tablet size (weight), orientation, grip shape, texture and stylus shape on productivity, biomechanics and subjective usability and fatigue when the tablet was held with just the left hand. A total of 15 male and 15 female subjects, ages 16–64 years, tested eight tablets and three styluses. Overall, the usability, fatigue and biomechanical evaluation of tablet design features supported the use of smaller to medium-sized tablets, with a ledge or handle shape on the back and surfaced with a rubberised texture. Larger, heavier tablets had significantly worse usability and biomechanics and their use with one hand should be limited. The stylus with a tapered grip (7.5–9.5 mm) or larger grip (7.6 mm) had better usability and biomechanics than one with a smaller grip (5 mm). There were no significant differences in productivity between design features. These design parameters may be important when designing tablets.
Practitioner Summary: Different tablet and stylus design features were evaluated for usability and biomechanical properties. On the basis of short-term tasks, emulating functional tablets, usability was improved with the smaller and medium-sized tablets, portrait (vs. landscape) orientation, a back ledge grip and rubberised texture. There were no differences in productivity between design features.