As a teacher and freelance writer, I am an office hobo who works wherever I can find space, meaning that the LapLite mobile workstation filled a need. My jobs are flexible, and my workspace needs to meet that flexibility. Most days, I work in my home office. However, at night, if I want to keep working and also be a part of my actual family (you know, those people who live in my house and eat the food I make them?), I need something that allows me to be in the same room as them. The LapLite does this, and then some.
In my younger days, I’d have “pshawed” me all over the place. “Well, isn’t a LAPtop supposed to sit on your LAP?” This can be added into my pshawing over needing a tablet and a laptop. While we’re at it, let’s include my “pshawing” over the tablet and large mobile phones. I pshaw a lot. The problem is that pshawing all over the place only works until I have to humbly admit that there are significantly valuable reasons for each thing I have pshawed.
When LapLite approached with a sample, I couldn’t pshaw anymore. At no risk to me, I had the opportunity to see what all this lap desk fuss was about. After all, a lap desk doesn’t seem to be revolutionary. When asked what prompted him to design a lap desk, Mr. Norman, the designer of the LapLite, responded, “In today’s world, more people are switching their systems from desktops to laptops, from bulky to compact, from compact to ever-accessible. We love the idea of technology at the fingertips, but we know that smaller size brings less functionality. As an avid tech user, I know when it’s time to get serious you have to bring out the mouse, but you shouldn’t have to break out the stationary desk. Our platform is engineered to maximize productivity and reduce space. You can watch a YouTube video on your iPhone/iPad in the charging slot, glide your Magic Mouse across sleek aluminum, and type away your next blog post all at the same time.” With this in mind, my little blogger self thought, “well, that’s cool, let’s see what I can do.”
First, the LapLite is the size of a regular desk. This means that I can use my mouse to make typing, image manipulation, and navigating between different tabs easier. I like using a mouse. Touch pads are fine for short term work, but when I’m doing long term work, I like to use a mouse. What I like most from the space perspective is that the desk reaches from one side of my chair to the other. My chair is narrow, but I like that this makes it feel similar to being under a real desk.
Second, the LapLite is comfortable. Keep in mind, it’s the middle of winter here in the hinterlands known as “New England.” So when I’m sitting in a chair, I’m not wearing shorts. If I were wearing shorts, perhaps there would be some of that “stick to your legs” feel from the desk. Since it’s made of bamboo, it’s doubtful that it would be that uncomfortable. It also means that when the summer does arrive, I won’t have to work with a hot metal laptop across my be-shortsed legs. This will be better for both my laptop and my legs.
Getting away from numbering, I want to focus on the design a bit. According to Mr. Norman, he purposefully chose bamboo, “First and foremost, we researched existing products on the market and saw that they were overpriced, used poor material choices, and were put together poorly. We decided to use carbonized decolorized bamboo, the highest quality, most eco-friendly, most advanced construction, most unique bamboo on the market.” His reasoning holds up to my independent research. Research provides many reasons that bamboo is a better choice of production material than wood. Bamboo is generally considered more sustainable than wood. Most bamboo species grow to full maturity in a single growing season. It can grow to full height within a 4–6 month period. Clumps of bamboo, known as culms, can reach full maturity in 3–6 years. In other words, unlike trees, which take several growing seasons and tens of years to regrow, bamboo can be cultivated more regularly leading to fewer ecological issues.
Bamboo leads to a uniquely strong composite, such as that from which the LapLite is made. The “gluability properties” of bamboo make production of the composite cheaper than that of wood since the adhesion of wood is one of the largest costs of wood composite products. This explains the $50 Kickstarter price for the LapLite. With bamboo being cheaper than wood, that cost saving can be passed on to the consumer. Finally, in terms of cooling for your laptop, bamboo composite provides unique properties of low thermal conductivity that, in conjunction with its biodegradable properties, makes it a better insulating and more environmentally conscious product than wood.
Aside from the bamboo composite used, the LapLite offers an aluminum mouse pad. Again, when questioned as to the choice, Mr. Norman noted that it was multifaceted, “The aluminum mousepad was an easy decision: it’s easy-clean, spill proof, adds aesthetic, and has a balanced blend of glide/control.” For someone whose kid has consistently sticky little hands touching all my things, the washability of the aluminum mouse pad covers me on this. Since he has already attempted to commandeer the LapLite for building LEGO people and a poor life choice of pretending to throw it, that cleanability aspect will likely come in very handy. I have a bluetooth mouse that doesn’t require resistance. My old mouse (old as of last month) had a tracking ball. If your mouse uses a tracking ball, the aluminum might not be a great option for you. Speaking of the mouse, as LapLite notes already on its Kickstarter FAQ, the design defaults to those who use the mouse as a righty mouse. I, however, use my mouse on the lefty settings. When questioned about this, Mr. Norman, founder and designer, noted that should the Kickstarter be funded, he plans to incorporate a lefty version. The bummer of being left-handed mouse user with the current setup is that the handy-dandy mobile device holder is sort of pointless for me.
Of course, now that we have the science and technical concerns out of the way, I’d like to focus on how the LapLite is pretty. The light color of the bamboo combined with the industrial aluminum of the mousepad makes it look less like a lap desk and more like a piece of art. In fact, this is precisely what Mr. Norman was hoping for, “the goal with LapLite is to build it beautifully, provide a sense of home, and design it for the now. It is the most futuristic mobile workstation ever created.” My house is small. This means that anything that I plan to use on a regular basis will be in public spaces. I don’t mind people seeing my LapLite. I can put it on a coffee table or counter as an accessory that then transforms into something practical.
With the current Kickstarter price at $50, it undersells many other lap desks of equal (or even lesser) quality. With this kind of price point, along with the quality and sustainability, the LapLite is a must-have for anyone who needs a more mobile workspace in their home.