Developer: Rain Design
Requirements: any laptop computer
It isn’t often that a product comes along that’s so good at what it does, you go out of your way to use it. Rain Design’s iLap is just such a product. If you have a laptop and spend any time working away from a desk or other hard, flat surface—for example, on the couch, in a chair, sitting outside, in front of the TV—go buy an iLap. You don’t even need to read the rest of this review. Just go buy it. Even if you already own a CoolPad, go buy an iLap. You won’t regret it. I showed the Web page to a fellow ATPM staffer and he bought it on sight. That’s how good this stand is.
What makes this product so amazing? Simply put, there is nothing else on the market that serves this function, and probably no better way to implement it. Constructed from a very attractive silver-anodized, sandblasted sheet of aluminum and two black faux suede-covered foam pads, the iLap beats both CoolPad models hands-down when it comes to off-desk use. On the desk, where the front pad can (and should, unless you have an external keyboard) be removed for easier typing, the iLap is at least as good as any stand of comparable height. There are better desk stands when it comes to ergonomics, but none of them is particularly portable, and there’s no way any of them will work on anything besides a desk. Just try balancing a loaded iCurve or NoteRiser on your lap. Or don’t, because ATPM will not be held responsible for any damage that results from attempting such a circus stunt.
The aluminum material is touted as a great heat dissipater, but the real advantage of the iLap, like most similar stands, comes from elevating the bottom of the laptop off the user’s thighs. Any guy who has used a recent PowerBook on his lap for an hour or two will recall what an uncomfortable experience that can be for certain, uh, “residents” of that region. Greatly improved airflow over the bottom surface of the computer is the primary side effect of elevating the laptop, and in this respect, the iLap certainly does no worse than any other stand. The faux suede material covering the pads grips clothing very well, preventing the laptop from sliding around on the user’s lap, especially when wearing nylon or similar synthetics. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I often use my PowerBook while watching TV, wearing gym shorts. Keeping the bare laptop on my lap is a real problem in this situation, and the iLap makes it a non-issue.
There are 12" ($50), 14" ($60), 15" Wide ($60), and 17" ($70) versions available for the corresponding PowerBook/iBook models, and a 15" ($60) normal-width model for the appropriate Wintel laptops. An iLap model matrix is available on the site to assist in determining the appropriate size for non-Apple laptop users.
The 15" Wide version ($60) reviewed here is substantially larger than most “portable” laptop stands, but it will still fit into most laptop bags that would hold its corresponding 15" PowerBook. If portability is a major concern, you can probably get away with using one of the smaller models, as the stand is plenty stiff. Be aware, however, that different-sized people have different-sized laps, so a smaller model may not fit your lap as well, depending on how you sit. The 15" Wide model fits the lap of this five-foot ten-inch reviewer perfectly.
This stand will do for couch potatoes what the CoolPad did for hard-core road warriors. It may even replace the CoolPad in the laptop bags of many casual laptop users. You owe it to yourself to check out this incredibly useful product.