Monday, September 28, 2009

Laptop bed stand: Acrobat stand/E-Table/etc ($45)

Several companies have been putting their name on this laptop stand, which allows you to use your laptop while laying on your back in bed.

The angle of the laptop can be adjusted over a wide range, but the height of the laptop can only be adjusted over a short (2 inch?) range. At least one owner has also labeled it as being a bit fragile. The upside is it's quite cheap, and portable. Find it for about $45 on amazon (shipping included). Some specs. A demo video.

Without having tried it, I should reserve judgement, but this doesn't look like a great solution to me.

This post is part of a series summarizing the various laptop stands that can be used in bed.

Laptop bed stand: LapDawg ($121)/Wizard($99)

This stand allows you to use your laptop while laying on your back in bed. It appears to be quite adjustable (see diagram).

There are a lot of different companies selling this product (or at least what appears to be exactly the same product).
Lapdawg has it at $121, which was the highest price I saw, but it comes with a 30 day refund of $89 (ie they don't refund the shipping charge).
Another copy sells this item under the name Wizard, for $99 (free shipping).

You can also find what appears to be the same item on ebay, usually under the name 'folding laptop stand'. The price goes as low as $86 with shipping.

The product looks great in pictures (see esp. those on lapdawg's site, which has a bunch of product photos that highlight all the possible positions you might want to use it in). It also seems to be the most adjustable stand around.

Unfortunately, people who have actually used it hands on report that it is pretty flimsy and tends to break within months. That's pretty bad for a ~$100 item. If you buy the Wizard version, it sounds like it's pretty easy to get replacement parts, often for free, but even so it's quite disappointing. User reviews 1, 2, 3, 4 (older version). I'm giving this an "avoid" rating overall, which is a shame because, at least in concept, it seems like the best stand out there.

Computing from bed: laptop stands

Modern life includes a lot of computer use, which for most people means sitting down. Back pain can make sitting prohibitively painful. Laying down is often more comfortable. One option is to lay on your stomach, propped up on your elbows, with your computer in front of you. This is a cheap and easy way to save your back. For some people (myself included) however, this kind of constant extension quickly becomes painful. Even if it doesn't hurt now, given the extensive stress this can cause to your spine it would be wise to get up and move at least once an hour if you use this pose.

The other option is to lay on your back, with your legs propped up and your laptop balanced against your thighs. While putting little stress on your back, this can be hard on your wrists and your neck. To make this more ergonomic you need some kind of laptop stand to raise up the keyboard to a more ergonomic angle and move the screen up as well, so you don't have to bend your neck as far forward to see it.

If you don't need the laptop to be raised very much (ie your neck is still very flexible) then a fairly effective stand can be fashioned from a sheet of cardboard. I'll put up a post later showing how to make one. In the mean time, I'll be considering commercial options which give you a lot more control, one per post (click here for a list).