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ATPM 10.05
May 2004




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Review: iLap

by Chris Lawson,


Developer: Rain Design

Price: $50-70

Requirements: any laptop computer

Trial: None

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.

Reader Comments (27)

Matthew Perl · May 3, 2004 - 15:12 EST #1
I did what you said: "You don't even need to read the rest of this review. Just go buy it." Maybe now my wife won't keep bugging me to put a pillow under the laptop. And she's pretty convinced my teenager's going to have kids with three arms and no eyes the way he uses the computer. So do you mind if I also tell her the aluminum blocks those scary gamma rays, radiation, etc.?
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · May 3, 2004 - 17:53 EST #2
Well, I can't endorse such a statement to your wife, because it's not true. Aluminium is a pretty useless shield against harmful radiation. You can, however, tell your wife that a pillow wouldn't be any better, and it *will* cause the laptop to run hotter than usual, due to the drastic decrease in airflow over the bottom of the computer.

However, the amount of ionizing radiation emitted by a laptop computer is essentially nil. It's certainly less than your teenager would be exposed to sitting in front of a CRT-based monitor or the television.


P.S.: Don't mention to your wife that eating bananas regularly drastically increases a person's exposure to the fairly long-lived and rather nasty potassium-40 isotope. Or that being a frequent flier exposes a person to more yearly radiation than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission deems "acceptable" for nuclear power plant workers...
Cacofonix · July 7, 2004 - 19:00 EST #3
How about some hard numbers such as how much did the temperature drop as a result of using this product. I agree this looks sleek and nice but I would loke to purchase based on quantitative data and not on qualitative appraisal alone.
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · July 7, 2004 - 21:31 EST #4
As I emphasised in the article, the primary benefit of the iLap is one of convenience, not cooling.

If you'd like to donate the requisite testing and measurement equipment to the ATPM labs, we'd be happy to come up with quantitative data for you.

Brian · September 4, 2004 - 14:29 EST #5
I got one, and while it is great for lap use, it does not work for desktop use - my 12" powerbook just slides off when the front pad is not attached.
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · September 4, 2004 - 15:27 EST #6
I would suggest you make sure the feet on your PowerBook are clean and still "tacky." If the rubber has gotten somewhat dirty or has been exposed to high temperatures, it can get slick and start to lose its grip. Also, the smaller size (and lower weight) of the 12" 'Books may be a contributing factor.

Peter Lam · September 9, 2004 - 03:27 EST #7
My comments is on my 3-months-old 12" PB (1.33) and 12" iLap. Used iLap for about 2 months now.

I agree with Brian about the PB12" sliding off w/o the front pad. The rubbers at the bottom of the laptop simply doesn't hold it against the iLap. It will slide off very easily and a slight movement of my hand on the keyboard may "slide off" my PB. My colleague once saw my PB gradually sliding off the Pad, He took my PB off the pad and onto the desk because if not my PB is evetually going to drop to the floor. Also the iLap barely cool down the 12" PB at all. It still runs quite hot (on the left side where the HD sits) with or without the iLap.

The edges of the shiny iLap are also prone to scratches. I already have some marks there but not on PB.

I agree with Chris that the great benefit of iLap is the convenience, for the reason aforementioned I use iLap exclusively for typing on my lap and it is really great for that purpose.

Try it first with your 12" PB with 12" iLap and you will probably find my comments to be accurate.

Well, if I have a choice again I will choose 15" PB and 15" iLap because 1) 15" PB runs a lot cooler itself 2) the longer velco pad in front of the keyboard due to the wider dimension will hold the hands position a lot better. In anycase I will even recommend 15" iLap for 12" PB to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · September 10, 2004 - 23:02 EST #8
The edges of the shiny iLap are also prone to scratches. I already have some marks there but not on PB.

Are you sure we're talking about the same product? My iLap isn't exactly shiny. It has a matte finish that has thus far proven to be very durable.

I pretty much agree with the rest of what you said -- my lap is large enough that anything smaller than the 15" model would probably be uncomfortable, so even if I had a smaller PowerBook, I'd still prefer the 15" iLap.

Rick · April 8, 2005 - 13:51 EST #9
Hey, at least you declared your interest from the start, there's all too little of that these days, and it is a nifty looking product (not too dissimilar to the old printer stand I used to put my PB150 on 10 years ago, when syncing up to my IIvi - probably the two worst Macs ever built, and head and shoulders over their 386 equivalents)
Samtherocker · August 12, 2005 - 20:10 EST #10
About the slipping... Maybe these ( ) would be useful?
KSM · August 23, 2005 - 12:49 EST #11
I've been reading good things about this product elsewhere, too, but no one addresses the question of using a mouse. Any thoughts for those of us addicted to true laptop computing (or, more realistically, recliner computing) but who dislike the trackpad and still prefer a mouse? Thanks.
SM · April 27, 2006 - 04:53 EST #12
This is all great but where can I buy an iLap from in the UK?? (I don't really fancy paying the same amount on postage as I have for the product!)
ATPM Staff · April 27, 2006 - 09:27 EST #13
SM - We at ATPM simply offered this review and must rely on product developers for sales availability. Please click the Developer link in the top section of this review header and contact them for international purchase options.
FM · April 30, 2006 - 01:27 EST #14
for UK customers, please visit There are plenty in stock and I am just about to place an order
Daniel Choi · July 23, 2006 - 19:00 EST #15
Another good use of iLap: You can put the iLap on your lap while sitting, and put an Apple Keyboard on top of it. This places the keyboard quite perfectly for ergonomic typing and keeps it comfortably in place.
Sharon Florio · July 31, 2006 - 13:37 EST #16
has anyone compared the iLap to the Lapinator? which is better? can i use a PC with either?
ATPM Staff · July 31, 2006 - 15:46 EST #17
Sharon - hoepfully a reader who's had experience with both (can't yet say if any ATPM staff members have tried the Lapinator) can chime in with some opinion. But remember that whether or not a PC can be used on it is irrelevant in our forum which specifically supports Macintosh only. Besides, the sizes of different Apple laptops is easily known, but there's no way to say how many zillions of size combinations of PC laptops exist.
Peter · December 31, 2006 - 00:16 EST #18
A little late in the game, but I replaced my Lapinator with the iLap and the iLap blows the Lapinator away! My MacBook Pro would always slide off the little risers installed on the Lapinator (as well as across the surface itself) and the Lapinator's "special" surface was warping.
Amazed Guy · January 3, 2007 - 18:56 EST #19
Finally something I unconsciously always desired. Splendid design as well.

Does anyone know a retailer in Germany?
Jan Borchers · January 26, 2007 - 09:38 EST #20
Amazed Guy: Gravis and Amazon seem to sell the iLap in Germany.
CrimsonCrow · March 1, 2007 - 17:16 EST #21
I bought this product before I found this review. The product is virtually flawless. I sit and use my 13" MacBook alot. I have the 13" iLap. Fits perfectly. I can leave my laptop on the thing when I stop working, set hem down wherever and pick them both up together with one hand.

And, Rain Design sent me replacement pads for my laptop just like the ones mentioned in Samtherocker's post.

Aluminum is a heat sink. It actually draws the heat away from the laptop. Then the space between your lap and the iLap is what keeps you cool. The Lapinator protects your lap from heat, not the laptop. It only cools the laptop by the addition of those ugly pegs used to lift the laptop.

The iLap offers more for my dollar: style, technology, ease of use. I'm happy. Quite.
DMB · June 3, 2007 - 17:09 EST #22
I purchased the iLap based on the reviews from this and another site. Unfortnately one day later I am returning it. It is too long for my lap and with or without the cylindrical pad makes my wrists hurt after only one hour of use. It is also very bulky. It was not a good purchase.
divewithme · June 9, 2007 - 20:55 EST #23
I just got my iLap and love it. I have a 13.3" MacBook. My only complaint about the MacBook was that the edge of the notebook under my wrists was rough and abraded my skin a bit. The iLap completely solved the problem! Although you aren't supposed to, I use it on my desk with both of the velvet pads on. I'm also a regular lap notebook user and it makes that a lot more comfortable. It also fits on my PC notebook, which is slightly larger than my MacBook. It looks great too!
profdoc · January 8, 2008 - 15:31 EST #24
Read these reviews. Bought the thing after using pillows, a board, newspapers etc. to keep my thighs from being burned by 15" mac pro. The ilap solves the problem very nicely and is well designed. I would probably like the wrist roll to be a bit firmer, but otherwise nothing to complain about and would buy again.
Avigayil · August 20, 2009 - 01:43 EST #25
I found this product in my local drug store of all things and have been looking up additional info since.. I like to do my research. I have a 13.3" macbook and am just trying to convince myself to spend the $70.00 my store has it listed for and buy it. I wish I could find it cheaper online... but it seems they like to charge an arm and a leg to ship to Canada!

Anywho.. love the reviews. Am a lap/pillow/prone position on bed.. etc etc macbook user and have been looking for something to save my neck and shoulders. Thanks for the article!
Raintree · February 5, 2010 - 17:15 EST #26
For a similar, cheaper, especially for those in Canada, and maybe better cooling product, check out the site.
tjum · March 20, 2010 - 16:49 EST #27
I spend quite some time reading reviews on the internet concerning the i-lap and similar products. After having the ilap now for almost half a year i must admit that the above statement saying: "You don’t even need to read the rest of this review. Just go buy it." is spot on. Despite the fact that feel it's overpriced and that if your a handy person you probably could create one by yourself, fact remains that i use it everyday and its very comfortable.

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