Spare your neck: even a cheap laptop desk, also called lap desk, is better for your posture than nothing. […]
Let me start this article with a confession: I wrote most of it from the couch.
But thanks to my faithful lap desk, this was more comfortable than it might otherwise have been. The lap desk supports my laptop on an inclined surface and helps me to bring the screen closer to eye level while I’m sitting on the couch so I don’t have to dislocate my neck so much. The flat surface also ensures good ventilation of the laptop, so that I can push the laptop to its limits without melting my thighs.
I first heard about Lap-Desks a few years ago, but I was only motivated to buy one last spring. Now I’m not sure how I could do without one for so long.
My special laptop table is a 25 euro plastic block from a company called HUANUO, with a beanbag-like padding underneath, adjustable height settings and a snapping mouse compartment. It offers comfortable space for a 15-inch laptop with about a centimeter of leeway on both sides.
However, this is not the only option. Lap desks come in many shapes and sizes, and they usually cost between 20 and 50 euros. If you are interested in more comfortable couch computing, you should consider some factors:
Legs or padding: While my lap desk rests directly on my legs and is padded underneath, other extendable legs sit on both sides of the body. This approach may be less conducive to all the ways we reposition ourselves when lounging, but the design is better for the bed and can be used more easily as a screen display on your desk.
Most lapdesks have under-padding to ensure the comfort of their legs (c) Lapgear
Slope values: Pay attention to the natural tilt of the lap desk that you see on sites like Amazon. Some have a padding that is higher at their knees so that the laptop is slanted, while others have a flatter padding. A slight tilt is helpful for posture because it takes the screen to a higher level, but it also causes your mouse to slide down if you don’t hold it. Consider a flat surface if you are mainly outstaffing working with an external mouse.
Height adjustable or not: This is probably the most difficult decision you have to make. While many lap desks only consist of a flat surface with padding underneath, some – including my HUANUO-have adjustable height levels. The ability to fine-tune the height of the screen is nice, but handling moving parts is also rather annoying. There is a lot to be said for using a lap desk immediately and without fuss.
Surface material: If there is one major criticism of my choice of lap desk, it is the use of creaking grey plastic. Others offer finishes with wood grain and rounded edges, and some even have patterned fabric upholstery underneath that will help integrate them into your living room decor. I couldn’t find any height-adjustable lap desks with wooden surfaces that didn’t use extendable legs instead of upholstery, so I decided to take the more utilitarian approach.
Wrist support or Stopper: If the laptop you choose is not particularly heavy or has strong rubber handles, it will probably slide down on any lap desk that has a tilt. Some lap desks defuse this by having a lip at the bottom, while others have padded wrist supports instead. The latter sounds nicer in theory, but too much padding can also force your hands into a writing position that doesn’t feel natural. For this reason, I tried and returned a lapdesk with padded wrists.
Some Lapdesks have hidden drawers for office supplies or replacement remote controls (c) Lapgear
Various Little Things: In addition to the above mentioned factors, some lapdesks are characterized by more frills. For example, there are models with recesses for storing a mobile phone or tablet and those with storage space for office materials.
Then there is the option for a special mouse tray, either via a mouse pad or an attachable tray. For those of you who own a gaming notebook, this is perhaps the most valuable add-on of all. Because if you make yourself comfortable on the couch with your laptop, you can also use it for more than just work.
* Jared Newman reports on personal technologies from his remote outpost in Cincinnati. He also publishes two newsletters, Technical Advice Advisor and Cord Cutter Weekly for help in eliminating cable or satellite television.