Today’s lapdesks provide much more than heat protection. They’re also useful tools for expanding your home workspace options. I’ve spent some of my most productive hours working from the couch on a lapdesk. After all, remote workers who operate out of tiny city apartments have to make use of what’s available in a limited space.
Despite what many people think, the couch is not a gateway to diversions. Sitting on it will NOT compel you to watch TV or play video games. Staying focused requires mental effort and self-discipline no matter where you work or whatever distractions are nearby.
On most days, I choose to use a lapdesk for at least part of the day. I prefer using a round-robin workspace strategy that begins on the couch. I then move to a high table where I can work while standing. This is followed by some time spent at a standard work desk. Sometimes I end up back on the couch or at a nearby cafe (if the weather is nice).
Distractions aside, there is a common risk for those who regularly work on laptops while sitting on the couch. Placing a laptop directly on your thighs can result in Toasted Skin Syndrome, a skin condition caused by prolonged exposure to high heat. Let’s face it, laptop computers were not designed to spend a lot of time on your lap. They can heat up pretty quickly and it doesn’t take long for the temperature to become uncomfortable. Placing your laptop on a pillow or cushion may provide some relief for your thighs, but it’s a bad idea if you care about the health of your equipment. The lack of ventilation may cause your laptop to overheat and shut down.
There are many highly functional lapdesk models available. Selecting the one that’s right for you will depend on the type of task being performed; e.g., creative work, coding, research, email, social media. Useful features include built-in mousepads, media slots and wrist/palm pads.
If you’re just using a lapdesk to surf the Internet while watching TV, almost any model will do. You’ll find plenty of inexpensive options. But if you plan to work on it regularly, there are several factors to consider before making your decision:
- Size — large enough to accommodate your laptop, plus any extra workspace you may require (e.g., mouse, tablet, papers)
- Weight — lapdesks made of heavier materials can become uncomfortable very quickly
- Price — are you on a strict budget or willing to pay more for certain features?
- Features — consider the type of work that you’ll be performing
- Appearance — do you have a place to store it when it’s not being used? Will it need to become part of your apartment decor?
5 Highly Functional Lapdesks
The following are five highly functional lapdesks that may help to make your couch-working time much more comfortable and productive.
The Slate 2.0 LapDesk with Mousepad is my favorite lapdesk and the one that I’m currently using. I was impressed by the high-quality craftsmanship of this product. It’s cut from a solid block of bamboo, which has been hand-sanded and polished for a silky smooth finish (could not stop running my hands over it!). The mousepad is inset so that the surface is flush with the lapdesk surface. I hesitated before purchasing this lapdesk because I was worried about the lack of a cushion underneath. But I was surprised to find that using the Slate 2.0 felt every bit as comfortable as my previous lapdesk that had a microbead cushion.
Size: Two sizes available: 22.5 x 11.5 x .75 inches (for 15-inch laptops), 20.5 x 10.5 x .75 inches (for 11- to 13-inch laptops)
Weight: 3.4 pounds (15-inch model), 2.4 pounds (11- to 13-inch model)
Cool features: Media slot large enough for tablet (in portrait mode), built-in mousepad, slot for charging cord, air vents to disperse laptop heat
Also by iSkelter, the Pilot LapDesk is similar to my favorite lapdesk (above), but I really consider this model to be the Rolls Royce of lapdesks. That said, it has more features than I require so I’m sticking with the Slate 2.0. The Pilot is long enough to rest on the arms of an armchair, although it’s also light enough to use comfortably on your lap. The extra length accommodates additional features like dual media slots and a whiteboard.
Size: 30.5 x 11 x .75 inches
Weight: 5.2 pounds
Cool features: Dual media slots large enough for tablet (in portrait mode), built-in mousepad, built-in whiteboard, slots for charging cord, air vents to disperse laptop heat, laptop grip to keep device in place
For those who prefer cushions between their thighs and the lapdesk, this LapGear Deluxe has two of the features that I look for — a media slot for our smartphone (although it will not fit a tablet) and a built-in mousepad. This lapdesk is not as pricey as the Slate 2.0, but there are a few quality concessions: The mousepad and media slot are attached with a plastic encasement, so they’re not flush with the lapdesk surface. The lapdesk surface is a espresso woodgrain pvc wrap, not wood.
Size: 22.5 x 2.5 x 12 inches
Weight: 2.5 pounds
Cool features: Dual-bolster microbead cushions provide additional airflow, lightweight, built-in media slot, built-in mousepad, carrying handle
The Sofia + Sam Multi Tasking lapdesk includes a lot of worthwhile features that transform it from a lapdesk into a portable workstation — namely a slide-out mouse deck and attached USB light (optional). There is a media slot on the lapdesk main surface that can accommodate a tablet or smartphone. There is a smaller media slot for smartphones built into the mouse deck. For the ergonomically conscious, an attached wrist/palm rest (when used correctly) may aid in preventing repetitive stress injuries or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Size: 18.5″ x 14″ x 3.5″
Weight: 5 pounds
Cool features: Slide-out mouse deck, two media slots (larger one can accommodate tablet in portrait mode), memory foam cushion, wrist/palm rest, optional USB light, carrying handle
This is stylish little number has many practical features and comes in a variety of colors and patterns. The LapGear XL Designer LapDesk is large enough to accommodate a 15-inch laptop and includes a media slot for your smartphone. A reasonably priced option if you don’t use a mouse or require extra surface space.
Size: 18.5 x 14.8 x 2.8 inches
Weight: 2.3 pounds
Cool features: Variety of colors and patterns to choose from, strap to hold down loose notes and papers, media slot for smartphone, tapered microbead cushion, small bumper to prevent laptop from sliding down, carrying handle
Remember to Alternate Your Workstations
While I am a staunch advocate of working wherever you can do your best work, I don’t recommend using a lapdesk as your only workstation. Mix it up throughout the day — and get up and move around every hour. You’ll find that you have more energy, both mental and physical, if you get OFF the couch and take regular breaks.