I don’t have an iPad…yet. I wasn’t really convinced I wanted one until the iPad 2 rolled out, and so far I haven’t been successful in finding one in this neck of the woods. The Apple Store Canada is still saying it’ll ship in one to two weeks, which could make the interval between purchase decision and delivery up to nearly three weeks, which is a bit too much of a lag for my taste. The nearest (only within 150 miles) Apple reseller says they might have stock by the end of the month. The waiting game continues.
Anyway, griping about iPad to availability isn’t the point of this review, but rather the general topic of computer body English. One of the aspects of iPad to which I’m especially looking forward is web surfing and such in a comfortable and relaxed posture. As Forrester senior analyst Sarah Rotman Epps notes in a new report this week on what the “post-PC” era really means, survey data shows that most tablet owners use them in the living room sitting on the couch, and that sounds very enticing.
One of the impediments to truly comfortable computing from the get-go has been that one is obliged to address the machine either in a formal posture such as at a properly ergonomic desktop workstation, or alternatively even worse—the ergonomically unsound contortions required to use a laptop literally on your lap, or even on a table or desktop due to the propinquity of the screen and keyboard.
However, there’s been a superb workaround that’s improved my computer experience immensely for most of the past decade, and that has facilitated countless hours of comfortable reclined computing since I first tried it out back in 2002. There are and have been a number of other laying-down laptop stands, and I checked it for any of them, but none has measured up to the $89.00 (both U.S. and Canada) Laptop Laidback, a Canadian product originally designed as a backyard experiment and first manufactured in fine furniture-grade hardwood. The Laidback has since morphed into a high–strength ABS plastic product made in China, which isn’t nearly as aesthetically pleasing, but is much lighter (under 3 lb. compared with 4.75 lbs) than the original wooden model, and substantially less expensive. I have examples of blb., but I suppose it says volumes that while I much prefer the look and tactile feel of the wooden classic legacy model, the one that I actually use most is the lighter to handle plastic one.
And while I’m looking forward to enjoying the iPad experience, I expect I’ll be using conventional clamshell laptops for serious production work for many years to come, so I anticipate the Laptop Laidbacks will still be getting plenty of use going forward.
The Laidback is a disarmingly uncomplicated design, essentially a laptop stand with an adjustable, inclined support tray that forms a “bridge” spanning your torso when you’re reclined on a bed or sofa, letting your arms assume the recommended 90 degree elbow angle and resting on the support surface comfortably relaxed.
The Laidback makes it possible to optimize the ideal arm, hand, neck, shoulder, and leg positions recommended by ergonomists to maximize comfort when using a laptop computer while lying down. When you’re comfortable, you tend to be more pain and stress free, and can extend your laptop usage, becoming more efficient and effective. The correct position is to always have your upper arms and elbows resting on a flat surface (no reaching), so to ensure this the laptop table must be able to adjust up and down so your palms and fingers rest on the keyboard (without having to lift your elbows off the support surface).
Adjusting the Laidback to find the most comfortable configuration of height and tray angle takes a bit of experimentation. An assembly instruction diagram is pictured on the back side of the support tray, where it will always be handy.
Speaking of architecture, the Laptop Laidback consists of five main components; two two-piece articulated, legs joined respectively by knurled bushings that allow “knee-style” angle adjustments in five degree increments. The adjustment angle is secured by sturdy and generously-sized thumbscrews for each joint. The tray section is made of the same plastic material as the legs, with two angled slots at the back containing captive sliding anchors for the thumb screws that fasten the legs to the tray. This allows the user infinite adjustment of the Laptop Laidback tray height within the range of the slots.
The support legs detach and fasten to the tray’s front surface with Velcro strips, and self-adhesive Velcro pads are also provided to use securing the laptop to the tray if you wish, although I have never bothered. With the legs fastened to the tray, the entire Laidback becomes a single, relatively compact unit for storage and transport—very slick and convenient, and made more so by the molded-in carry handle.
The Laptop Laidback is robust and stable enough to easily support any notebook computer Apple has ever made, including 17″ models and heavier older units like the Wall Street series PowerBook G3 and the PowerBook 3400c.
I can’t say enough good about the Laptop Laidback, and can’t think of anything about it I would change. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?
Laidback We “R” Inc. warrants its product for 1 year from date of purchase. The product is sold with a “30-day money back” return policy with no restocking fees, but shipping costs in either direction are not refundable.
Buy the Laptop Laidback