If you’re a heavy duty laptop user, chances are good that
you regularly use your laptop computer in two different types of environments.
When you’re on the road, you probably use your laptop on your lap for the
majority of the time. When you’re in the office or at home, you probably use
your laptop on your desk or on a table. While your laptop computer by itself is
perfectly suited to both these types of environments, you can make working with
your laptop computer more comfortable, more ergonomic, and possibly become more
productive with the use of a specialized laptop
desk.

Now, keep in mind that I use the term laptop desk here as a general description because these types of
devices come in a wide variety of configurations. However, you can break them down
into two categories: laptop trays for mobile use and laptop stands for desktop
use. Some of these laptop desks are designed to do double duty serving both the
mobile and desktop user.

In this article, I’ll provide you with a roundup of some of
the best laptop desks. Let’s begin by exploring some of the benefits associated
with using laptop desks.

The benefits

While laptops offer a ton of convenience from a mobility
standpoint, they also can present you with a host of little problems. For
example, if you use your laptop on your lap, then you’re familiar with the “hot
legs syndrome.” If you use your laptop on your desk, then you’re familiar
with the sore wrists or carpel tunnel syndrome. These are the types of problems
that the manufacturers of laptop desks set out to solve. In addition to
offering solutions to these inconveniences, many laptop desks offer a host of
other beneficial features.

To solve the heat problem in a mobile scenario, laptop trays
provide an insulating buffer between your legs and the bottom of the laptop. In
a desktop scenario as well as in a mobile scenario, many laptop desk solutions
elevate the back of the laptop in order to improve fan exhaust and promote
airflow, thus allowing the system to run at cooler temperatures. Another benefit
of the elevated design is that it allows you to position your wrists at a more
comfortable angle as you type.

For the desktop scenario, laptop stands often serve a
similar function as the more traditional docking stations, providing you with an
easy way to quickly reconfigure a mobile computer into a desktop computer. Many
laptop stands also offer a swivel feature that works like a lazy susan and
allows you to more easily share your laptop screen. As you can imagine, this
can come in handy in a number of situation such as when you’re showing a
PowerPoint presentation to a small group of people.

Of course there are a lot of other benefits offered by each
manufacturer’s unique designs which may make one laptop desk more appealing to
you than another. So without further ado, let’s take a look at some of the
devices now on the market.

Coolpad

The Coolpad from Road
Tools
is a unique device in that it
actually provides you with three benefits–more comfortable typing position,
better heat dissipation, and the ability to rotate your laptop 360 degrees. And it can be used on your lap or on your desk.

Constructed of two thin pieces of ABS, a rigid thermoplastic
material, that are connected with rotating Teflon bearing, the Coolpad is both
lightweight and very sturdy. The unique friction differential bearing system is
easy to swivel yet won’t move by itself.

The Coolpad comes in two models. The Traveler, shown in
Figure A, measures 10.25″ (w) x 6.75″ (d) x 0.75″ (h), weighs
about 9 ounces, and sells for $19.95. The PodiumPad, shown in Figure B, measures
10.25″ (w) x 8.75″ (d) x 2″ (h), weighs about 15 ounces, and sells
for $29.95. While the Traveler’s elevation is fixed, the PodiumPad’s elevation
is adjustable by way of Lego-like snap-on risers.

Figure A

Figure B

Laptop Desk UltraLite

If you want both a laptop tray and a laptop stand, in a
single package that’s very portable, you’ll want to investigate the versatile Laptop Desk
UltraLite
from LapWorks. Unfold it on your lap and you have a roomy 22″
(w) x 11″ (d) x 5/16 (h) laptop tray. Fold it in half to one of the 5
adjustable angles, place it on your desk and you have a laptop stand.

When you’re ready to hit the road, the device folds down to
a compact 11″ (w) x 11″ (d) x 10/16 (h) size and weighs only 14.5
ounces. The Laptop Desk UltraLite sells for $29.95. Figures C and D show some of the
configurations you can set with the UltraLite

Figure C

Figure D

Xbrand Lap Desk

If you’re a mobile laptop user who hates to use a touchpad
or the joystick-like pointing devices in the middle of the keyboard, then you’ll
be interested in the Xbrand
Lap Desk
from Kinesis Corporation. In addition to elevating the laptop up
from your legs, this device adds a retractable mouse pad allowing you to easily
use an external mouse. The Xbrand Lap
Desk, shown in Figure E, sells for $34.99, measures 14″ (w) x 10 3/4″
(d) x 1/2″ (h), weighs 17 ounces, which allows it to easily stow away in a
laptop case.

Figure E

Notebook Chill Mat

If you have a very powerful laptop, chances are that it
really puts out some heat and can be very uncomfortable to use on your lap. In
these situations, you may need to investigate the Notebook Chill
Mat
from Targus. This laptop tray features a two-fan cooling system that is
designed to pull heat away from the bottom of the laptop. The fans are powered
from your laptop via the USB port.

The Notebook Chill Mat, shown in Figure F, which sells for
$29.99, measures 11.75″ (w) x 9″ (d) x 0.8″ (h), weighs 15
ounces and fits easily in a laptop case.

Figure F

iLap

If you have a Powerbook, chances are that you’d like to have
a laptop desk that is specifically designed for your Apple laptop. If so, then
the iLap , from Rain
Design, Inc, is just the product for you. The iLap is designed to match the
Powerbook as it’s made of aluminum with a sand-blasted and silver anodized
finish. It also comes in five sizes: 12 inch, 14 inch, 15 inch, 15 inch
widescreen and 17 inch widescreen versions. So there is a model just for your
particular Powerbook.

The iLap, shown in Figures G and H, can be used with or
without the front cushion on your lap as well as on your desk. It ranges in
price from $49.90 to $69.90.

Figure G


Figure H

LaptopLift

Sometimes simplicity is the best medicine. That certainly
seems to be the case behind the design of the LaptopLift. These sturdy handcrafted
solid oak stands, shown in Figure I, are designed for use on a desk and simply
slip under a laptop and prop it up at an angle that allows you to position your
wrists comfortably as you type, as you can see in Figure J. This design also
improves airflow under the laptop thus allowing it stay cooler.

Figure I

Figure J

The LaptopLift comes in three sizes–8.5-, 11-, and
12-inches– to accommodate the various laptop designs and they all sell for
$19.95.

Xbrand Laptop Stand

The Xbrand
Laptop Stand
from Kinesis Corporation is an very interesting device in that
it essentially converts your laptop into a desktop monitor by elevating the
entire laptop at a steep angle. You then have enough room on the desk or table
to connect and use a standard keyboard and mouse. Of course the elevation is
adjustable to four positions for both comfort and to provide access to front
mounted CD\DVD\floppy drives. This stand also rotates 360 degrees.

The Xbrand Laptop Stand comes in two models, the standard,
which sells for $69.99 and a USB hub model, which sports four USB 2 ports and
sells for $119.99. Both models measure 11.8″ (w) x 11.0″ (d) x 4.25″
(h) / 8.5″ (h). Figures K and L show what the stand looks like and how it
works.

Figure K

Figure L

Lap Desk – Hybrid

When you’re done traveling with your laptop computer, you
may just want to curl up on the couch and surf the Net. If so, the Lap Desk –
Hybrid from
Stacks And Stacks may be just the ticket. The unique molded wood design not
only provides you with a great work surface with enough room for your laptop
and an external mouse, but also provides a trough area to hold books or
magazines as well as coaster to hold a cup.

The Lap Desk Hybrid measures 8″ x 30″ x 15″
and comes in Birch, which sells for $120 and Walnut, which sells for $325.00.
Figure M shows what it looks like.

Figure M

Much more out there

Keep in mind that the laptop desks I’ve shown you in this
article are only a sampling of what’s out there. To see for yourself, just
Google “laptop
desk
.” If you have a favorite laptop desk, please take a moment to let
us know about it by visiting the Discussion
area
and posting a message.