My Search For the Perfect Laptop Lapdesk

For the last few years my better half has been using the portable and petite 13" MacBook. But as I found myself upgrading to a new machine, she found herself adopting and upgrading to my 15" model this weekend. She's enjoying the additional screen space and faster setup, a welcome upgrade...except for one thing: it's not as easy to lounge around with. You see, Emily is a chronic laptop couch surfer/worker... While I stay primarily stationed and stationary at a desk where I dock my own laptop to a monitor and desk, Emily likes to migrate room to room, following the sun, our cats, and a lot of times according to whether the living room heater is on. That means she finds herself working where a desk surface isn't available.

Unlike the 13" MacBook, the 15" Pro model is a lot wider, heavier, and also becomes noticeably hot to the touch after extended use. With great power comes great responsibility...and heat. So I started a search for a laptop desk solution which would fit her needs, and in the process discovered a few unusual solutions:

Logitech Touch Lapdesk N600 is probably the fanciest, most feature-rich laptop lapdesk you'll find out there today. It's a heat shielding platform which also offers a slide-out 5" touchpad features multi-touch navigation.

Placed on the right, this touchpad should lend itself to a slightly more ergonomic position while in extended use, since your hands won't be positioned directly up front while normally using a laptop trackpad. Volume, on and off controls, and wireless USB transmitter/receiver system make this a viable solution. The only concern I had when reviewing this model for use with the MacBook Pro was proper ventilation and the nearly $70 price tag.

The Almove MacBook Holder 15" plays double duty as both as a protective laptop carrying sleeve and also converts into a reversible laptop desk. At about $98, this solution is the most expensive I considered. But while I was impressed with the Apple-like simplicity and the all-aluminum surface, a material choice which would keep the laptop both cooler and protect the lap from the scorching effects of a hot machine, sourcing this Italian-made laptop accessory seems to be more difficult than any of the other options.

I couldn't decide whether the Lapwing Lapdesk was dorky or really cool. I guess the answer to that depends upon whether you find the aeronautical design sleek and utilitarian or vertically cumbersome. It rides the fence between aerodynamic modern and somewhat senior citizen accessory.

Emily tends to work on her laptop in various modes of laying down (I know, bad ergonomics, but what's a guy to do?), so this solution would likely be a little too limiting to her needs. But still, the Lapwing looks fantastic for using upright while seated.

After consideration, none of these were the perfect fit or price. The laptop lapdesk solution I ended up ordering last night was an extremely affordable one which fits all my criteria:

  • extremely portable
  • easy to use on the lap or off the lap
  • affordable
  • help dissipate any excess heat

At just $21.95 for the Targus Chill Mat, the only concern/negative is the likelyhood the USB powered fans of this unit will likely fail sooner than later, as is often the case with accessories like this. But even without the fans, the Targus model seemed the most portable and easy on the eyes, and will hopefully keep my partner's lovely lap unscorched.

(Creative Commons image: Alex Valli)

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