The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

No More Lap Dances

No, I don’t mean that kind of lap dance. It’s something else that I refer to as a “lap dance.”

When it comes to work and blogging, I rely heavily on my MacBook. I use it every day and take it pretty much everywhere I go. I start the day with it, getting a jump on the day’s work. I open it up once I’m on the Metro (if I can find a seat) and either continue working, work on a blog post, or catch up on reading stuff I’ve marked to read offline. During the day, at work, I use it about as much as I use the PC at my desk. And in the evening, after the kids go to bed, I open it up to catch up on more reading, do some writing, or get the jump on tomorrow’s work.

This makes for some discomfort. Partly from an overheated lap, and partly from not really having a laptop work station that’s ergonomically correct. Thus starts the “lap dance.” It usually starts with me sitting at my desk. Heat or discomfort causes me to shift from one position to another, until I decide to stretch out on the floor in the family room. Again, not terribly comfortable. So I move to the couch. Again, the lap warms up. Plus, the level of the laptop isn’t quite right. So I’m back to the desk.

This is what I call the “lap dance.” And I’ve been trying to make it stop.

The first problem I tackled was the heat.

First, I tried this Micro Innovations cooling pad from Radio Shack. It was OK. It fit into the backpack I carry my laptop around in. But eventually I lost the USB cord that was supposed to run the fan. I probably forgot to put it in the handy compartment on the bottom.

Next was this “chill pad” from Targus. It worked about as well as the one before. Until it didn’t. The first one stopped working, I think, because I either burned out the motor by forgetting to turn it off via the switch on the USB cord, or damaged it by not taking off the cord before packing it in my bag. (Something I decided to do because there was nowhere to store the cord on or in the “chill pad.”) I bought a second one, but then noticed that the rubber feet and the bottom were leaving black marks on my MacBook and my desk.

Then came the ALLSOP Cool Channel Platform, which I picked mainly because I thought maybe it would be a good idea to pick something that doesn’t require a USB connection. It worked well, though it didn’t make working on my lap more comfortable, except for relief from the heat problem. Plus, it didn’t fit quite so easily into my backpack. I still have it at work, where I use it because it raises the keyboard to a level that’s easier to work with.

Then I tried this lapdesk from Targus. There were a couple of problems right away. It was too wide to use on the Metro, as it would intrude on the “personal space” of the person next to me if I unfolded it. I could fold it, but then it became awkward to hold on my lap. Unfolded, it also offered very little in the way of protection from heat.

Finally, I turned to the XPad. After researching it, I decided it would be worth trying because it would travel well and didn’t require a USB plugin. And it turned out to be just the right thing for traveling. I can fit it into my backpack very easily, so I keep it in there for use on the metro or anywhere else it might come in handy. But that leaves me without a real solution at home.

So, again, I’ve turned to research. Now that I’ve got a solution for working away from home, I’m looking for an “at home” solution. I’ve found three products that look promising.

One candidate is the Lapalot Lap Desk from Levenger. It looks comfortable, and like it’s the right size for a laptop. It would be easy to use while sitting on the sofa. Possibly even on the floor. I like the wristrest too. I could store the power source and wireless mouse in the storage compartment. But I’m not sure it would work if I’m camped out on the floor with the kids, while also working on the laptop. So, I looked around more and found a couple more solutions.

I stumbled across the Lapdawg by clicking on a random link after googline “lap desk” and was immediately impressed. It seems a little big, but I don’t plan to use it outside of home. so I’m not sure size matters much. (In this case.) The price is a little daunting at $130, but the video demonstration is impressive.

The Acrobat Laptop Stand is less expensive, at $69.95, and is smaller than the Lapdawg. Maybe small enough to fit into a laptop bag. But it looks somewhat less easy to adjust than the Lapdawg. It, too, has a demonstration video.

The last one I looked at was the Wizard Laptop Stand, which looks an awful lot like the Lapdawg, but for a bit less at $99.95. Now, this might at long last be the one I choose. It looks like it has all the features of the Lapdawg. In fact, it looks like the exact same design. (That makes me wonder if there’s some copyright infringement going on, but I’ll leave that to the inventors to sort out.) I particularly like the precision of being able to choose angles of adjustment. That’ll make it much easier to set up my favorite configurations, once I figure out what they are.

Oh, and there’s yet another demonstration video. (Maybe it’s the videos that suck me in.)

So, which oen would you choose? Or should I go back to window shopping?


  1. Wow! It’s amazing how much this is a problem for so many people. Slowly but surely, I’m putting away my pennies in hope for a uber tiny laptop that doesn’t generate as much heat. We’ll see how that works.

  2. I use Belkin’s CushTop for my iBook and have found it pretty good. No heat gets through, it keeps its shape, and comes in several colors. Amazon carries them, and at $35, it’s not a bad deal.

  3. I LOVE my Targus LapDesk… I use it everywhere, but don’t have the metro issues described above. It works at the car dealership, airport, coffee shop, on the couch, etc.

    It also acts as a laptop stand at your desk, and I’ve found that it keeps your lap cool too. Just my opinion.

  4. I find that the thing that makes the laptop the hottest is charging the battery. If you can run off a full charge without having the laptop plugged in, you may find it not quite as hot. Then, when it’s time to recharge, you can move to the desk for a change of pace. At least that’s what I tend to do. Of course, it could vary by model, too — I’ve got a MacBook Pro.