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I don’t think anyone can argue that the laptop computer is one of the greatest innovations for helping today’s professionals become mobile. Our laptops allow us to do our work whether we’re in our office, on the road, in a plane, sitting at a caf� drinking coffee, or even on the beach. But as much as we all love to use our laptops, how many of us actually use them on our laps? Our legs aren’t as stiff as a desk or tabletop and we don’t usually enjoy the sensation of hot burning thighs from the heat of the computers. So I thought it would be proper to take a look at a couple of options that we professionals have in setting up a mobile office. While it’s second nature these days to toss our laptop into a computer bag and maybe a mouse and an extra cable or two, it’s possible now to also add a portable desk to the mix. Two such products are the Lapstation Pro from Intrigo and the appropriately named Laptop Desk from LapWorks Inc. THE LAPSTATION PRO FROM INTRIGO My two main concerns in looking at these portable desks revolved around how compact and how sturdy they could be. I didn’t want a lot of extra weight and I couldn’t have the desks collapsing as I sat on the bed or couch.

I found the Lapstation Pro (www.intrigo.com/store/ lapstationpro.html) to fit the bill more on the sturdy side than the compact side. The Lapstation Pro is really an interesting piece of design. When unfolded, it opens to provide a 20-inch long by 11-inch wide surface on which you can place your laptop, external mouse, and a file or two that you’re working on. The Pro model is made out of transparent high-impact polycarbonate and feels very sturdy and solid. It is designed so well that when it’s unfolded, there’s no gap or ridge in the middle of the top surface to get in your way. The top of the Lapstation Pro is partially covered in a sticky, anti-slip material. This works terrifically to hold your laptop in place when you need to pick up and move the desk, but the sticky surface also attracts its fair share of dust. Two strong “legs” fold down from the bottom of the Lapstation Pro that lock out at a slight angle. I found this worked very well at keeping the desk in place, although you can’t wiggle the desk back and forth too roughly. The bottoms of the legs have shock-absorbing molds that keep the desk from sliding around. A fairly ingenious spring-loaded locking mechanism keeps the legs in place, and can be released to fold up when you place your hands through the handles on either side. When folded up, the Lapstation Pro is only 1.25 inches thick. With such a small profile, the Lapstation Pro fit into the same computer bag with my laptop, but I did feel the extra 3 pounds the desk added to the bag. Intrigo has other Lapstation models (www.intrigo.com/store/ b1midnight.html) that feature dangling pockets on the sides, but the Lapstation Pro is the best option for mobile professionals. The Lapstation Pro reminds me of a breakfast-in-bed tray. In fact, I was able to comfortably work on a recent business trip in my hotel bed with the desk. Folding and unfolding the Lapstation Pro is a snap, and having the desk to work on while away from the office is worth the price and the extra weight. Lapstation Pro from Intigro Inc. $79.95 www.intrigo.com Available in the colors of Lava, Sky and Flame. THE LAPTOP DESK FROM LAPWORKS INC. Although I became a big fan of the Lapstation Pro, there are times when I need something a lot less — both in size and weight. The Laptop Desk (www.lapworksinc.com/ laptopdesk2.html) from LapWorks gives me about the same workspace when unfolded, provides a non-slip surface, and weighs under a pound.

You can almost think of the Laptop Desk as a Lapstation Pro without the legs. The Laptop Desk simply folds in half for portability and is only five-eighths inches thick. It’s also made of high-impact polycarbonate plastic and appears very strong. To use the Laptop Desk, you simply unfold it and place it on your lap. There are deep “grooves” on the top and bottom of the desk which probably look a little odd, but they serve a very important purpose. If you’ve ever left your laptop sitting on your lap for more than 10 minutes, you’ve probably felt the power of your computer’s processor transferred to your legs in the form of intense heat. You’ll notice on any laptop computer that there are several vents on the side and bottom which serve to let heat dissipate out of the computer. Even though we call them “laptops,” no normal person can actually use a laptop computer on their lap without the help of some heat retardant clothing. The grooves or channels on the Laptop Desk effectively dissipate the laptop’s heat away from the users’ legs and make for a much better computing experience. LapWorks Inc. even commissioned a study (www.lapworksinc.com/ thermalstudy_intro.html) on how computing temperatures will affect usage, citing that their Laptop Desk helps tremendously. The Laptop Desk Version 1.0 (www.lapworksinc.com/laptopdesk.html) was the first product from LapWorks Inc. Then they took a good idea and made it better with Version 2.0 (www.lapworksinc.com/laptopdesk2.html). The only real difference in the two models is that Version 2.0 gives you the option of using it in “stationary” mode. There is a small support arm on the bottom of one side of Version 2.0 that can be flipped out to prohibit the desk from closing all the way. This provides a small inclined surface for your laptop to sit on. While you give up all the workspace you get from an unfolded desk, the Laptop Desk in “stationary” mode is a great idea when your laptop is setting on a desk or table. It helps your laptop stay cooler and function better. Last but not least, the top and bottom of the Laptop Desk have strips of rubbery non-slip material. On the top, this helps to prevent your laptop from slipping off. On the bottom, this helps the desk to stay in place on your legs. When unfolded, the Laptop Desk does have a small gap in the middle of the surface, but presumably this won’t be a problem since your laptop will be sitting on top of it. If you need a small, flat desk on your lap, the Laptop Desk from LapWorks is a great choice. Laptop Desk Version 2.0 from LapWorks Inc. $24.95 www.lapworksinc.com Brett Burney is the Legal Practice Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine (www.thompsonhine.com) in Cleveland. He also reviews products for Law Office Computing magazine (www.lawofficecomputing.com) and writes a monthly legal tech column for LLRX.com. He can be reached at [email protected].

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