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ATPM 13.06
June 2007




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Accessory Review

by Chris Lawson,

Aluminum Desktop Stand


Developer: LapWorks

Price: $60

Trial: None

Laptop sales have risen dramatically over the past five years, making laptop stands an ever more popular accessory. The market has been flooded with a wide variety of designs, ranging from the mind-numbingly simple and inexpensive iRac to the intricate and pricey NoteRiser. One thing is certain: this increasingly competitive market has certainly evolved since the Road Tools CoolPad hit the shelves nearly a decade ago.


Highest Incline

Contour’s NoteRiser, reviewed here some three years ago, was a fine stand for some purposes but overpriced and fatally flawed for virtually all Mac laptops in production at the time. LapWorks has taken that same basic idea and improved upon it dramatically with their Aluminum Desktop Stand.


Highest Incline, Side View

The Aluminum Desktop Stand is about the same surface area as a 15″ PowerBook or MacBook Pro but is about one-third as thick. It folds open through a fairly simple mechanism into any of six elevated positions, raising your laptop’s screen to a maximum height of nearly seven inches. It also borrows a popular feature of Road Tools’ CoolPad line, a swiveling base that allows for 360-degree rotation of a laptop on the stand. (While nice for use on a conference table or for showing off photos, swiveling is dubiously useful in a stand requiring the use of an external keyboard and mouse.)

LapWorks pushes the Aluminum Desktop Stand as a means of cooling your laptop. In fact, LapWorks is the only manufacturer I’ve seen that has actual scientific data to support this claim, in the form of a study conducted by engineering faculty from Cal Poly at Pomona. With the test laptop, a Dell, surface temperatures on the bottom of the laptop were reduced by about 10 degrees compared to the same laptop sitting on a desk and by 20 degrees compared to the laptop sitting on a cloth surface.

At maximum elevation, the Aluminum Desktop Stand claims a 23 percent heat reduction with the test laptop, and intermediate elevations offer proportionately less cooling capacity. Obviously, the degree of cooling will also depend in part on the design of the laptop, but it’s clear that the stand does offer an improvement over the feet built into the bottom of a 15″ Aluminum PowerBook G4.


Blocked Optical Drive

As with the NoteRiser, the Aluminum Desktop Stand has a fatal flaw in its higher elevations: the support “ears” almost completely block the use of the optical drive in all of Apple’s pro-level laptops. The problem is not as pronounced as it is with the NoteRiser due to a better design, but it’s still bad enough to keep me from using this stand—in spite of all its nice features—on an everyday basis. It’s also the only reason this stand gets demoted to an “Okay” rating.


Lowest Incline

The good news is that LapWorks has sensibly decided to charge $60 for the Aluminum Desktop Stand, less than half of the NoteRiser’s $130 suggested retail price. If you have a pro-level Apple laptop and use your optical drive more than once or twice a week, you’re going to find this stand more trouble than it’s worth unless you keep it at its lowest two or three settings. This largely negates the cooling and ergonomic benefits of the stand which, in turn, are presumably why you bought it in the first place. If you have a MacBook or iBook, or you don’t use your optical drive much, this is a pretty slick stand at a fairly good price.

Reader Comments (5)

Mario S. De Pillis, Sr. · June 2, 2007 - 19:34 EST #1
I am amazed that both ATPM and the Mac magazines have overlooked the best of all the laptop stands: the "Kamas" stands with finned heat sinks. The Japanese company has designed them for the Mac Book and MacBook Pro. Thus the newest model solves the problem of the blocked CD slot.
It is made of beautifully machined metal.
The Japanese company has been making them much longer than the johnny-come-latelys who have cobbled together stuff that has appeared on the market in the last couple of years.
You can see pictures here:
Chris Lawson (ATPM Staff) · June 5, 2007 - 18:37 EST #2
If you can convince them to send me a review model, I will be more than happy to review it. Most of the time -- and it's sad that the industry is this way, but it is -- the products that get reviewed are the ones that have PR departments working on their behalf. Otherwise, very few people know about them, or people do know about them but the manufacturer is, for whatever reason, unwilling or unable to provide a model for review.
Jose Calero · June 9, 2007 - 04:40 EST #3
Mario S. De Pillis, Sr.'s comments are a veiled attempt to promote another product that is not only twice the price as our Aluminum Desktop Stand ($59 vs. $129) but when compared from a stylistic perspective, the Kamas product doesn't. Yes, it's functional but has an Erector Set look. Our customers want style, functionality, convenience - in that order. We strive to make all of our product meet those requirements. It's also true that the Kamas unit has more position settings that our Aluminum Desktop Stand. Our testing concluded that six position settings was sufficient.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention that we are offering our Aluminum Desktop Stand absolutely risk free. That means that if you don't like the product, we'll give you a full refund and even pay the return shipping. It won't cost you a cent if you don't like it.

And to Chris Lawson I'll say that it is a shame that the only products that get reviewed are from companies who have PR departments. For the first three years of our business we didn't have a PR department - I was it. But that's also the logical order of things when you consider it from Darwin's perspective. That is survival of the fittest and that's the way it should be.

Thank you.

Jose Calero
LapWorks, Inc.
Mario S. De Pillis, Sr. · June 9, 2007 - 10:29 EST #4
I don't want to get into an altercation with Mr. Calero.

His product, the Aluminum Desktop Stand looks very good to me. I probably would have bought it if I had known about it three years ago. I should have said as much.
I can see how a reader could interpret my words of praise for the Japanese stand as a "veiled attempt" to promote the product. But I had no such dishonest motive.
My concern was simply that not enough products get reviewed. Hard drives are another example.
I am sorry that Mr. Calero took my comment as devious.
I wish him great success with what looks like a fine product. I great appreciate tough and able entrepreneurs like him.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · June 9, 2007 - 11:26 EST #5
Allow me to remind everyone of something before this thread goes much further. Even though ATPM is in its 13th year of publication, it isn't the fully commercialized publication that 'zines such as MacWorld are. ATPM has always been volunteer-based and all income generated by ads goes toward paying for our server space. As such, there's no way we can always comprehensively review a variety of a type of product such as all the different laptop stands, so our reviews tend to be more about a single user's experience with a product they would likely have bought anyway. The ratings reflect the author's overall feeling about the product and not a larger staff's collective decision. The obvious assumption you can make is that ATPM doesn't carry many reviews of products that no one on ATPM staff was interested in owning in the first place. We are "About This Particular Macintosh" after all. And our reviews are from one particular author writing his or her personal experiences about a particular product they were interested in—not a product the boss said to review.

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