Review: Keynamics Laptop Stand on Wheels
Industrial designers have a tough job. Jonathan Ive has to come up with eye-catching products and, instead of simply letting form follow function, he has to balance these two virtues in a product that’s easy, intuitive, and comfortable to use while looking great at the same time. This middle ground is a tough position to occupy.
At the form end of the spectrum, you get things like Pressure Drop’s TrestleHub, memorably described by Gizmodo as having been designed “to perfectly complement your collection of Klingon battle dildos.”
Meanwhile, at the function end of the spectrum, you have the Keynamics Laptop Stand on Wheels (LSoW), a visual abomination (with an equally terrible name) that works so incredibly well, you find yourself wondering what family members would think if you gave these stands out as Christmas presents.
I’ll be honest—the first time I saw this stand, I thought it was a joke. As soon as I sat down in front of it, however, I knew I had found an incredible product. As regular readers may recall, I made similar remarks about Rain Design’s iLap about a year ago—immediately after using it for the first time, I knew there wasn’t any reason not to own one. The Keynamics stand is much more comfortable to use on a desk, but trades in a lot of versatility to gain comfort.
The most striking aspect of the LSoW—other than, well, its appearance—is its weight, which comes in at 10 pounds (4.5 kg). The rear portion of the stand is heavily weighted because the front six inches are designed to hang off the edge of a desk or table. It looks unstable, but it’s not, thanks to that weight. (Users with very heavy laptops, however, may find themselves wanting another pound or two back there, as the stand has trouble balancing laptops more than approximately seven pounds.) The LSoW is thoughtfully designed with a built-in handle to allow for easy transport, though only the most masochistic users would attempt to use it as a truly portable stand.
By hanging out over the edge of a desk, the LSoW encourages users to slide in underneath it and place their chairs into a reclining position. As one of my favorite ways to use the iLap is in a recliner or on the couch, I welcomed an excuse to kick back at my desk as well. Ergonomic experts claim a reclining position eases pressure on the spine and back, and the angle of the LSoW allows for the wrists to be straightened, reducing the likelihood of injury. The raised back of the stand brings the screen up about four inches to a more comfortable viewing level, reducing neck and eye strain.
It’s clear from using this stand for some time that a great deal of thought went into the ergonomics. I have never found a more comfortable stand for desk use. Those of you who generally avoid reading manuals will want to set aside 15 minutes to go through the included setup and instruction guide. It explains how to get the most comfort out of the stand without putting yourself in a position that your chiropractor will have to correct later, at great expense.
With the laptop hanging out over the floor like it does, you might worry about it sliding off and meeting an untimely demise. Don’t worry. The tacky rubber strips on the bottom and front lip of the stand ensure that even the slickest, heaviest laptops will stay securely in place. In typical use, merely pushing on the laptop will be enough to move the entire stand, thanks to that rubber.
Laptops with front-loading optical drives will need to be lifted up slightly to use the drive; if the lip were about two to three millimeters shorter, the slot-loading drives in the PowerBook line would work perfectly. Thankfully, this lip is much less of an issue on the Keynamics stand than a similar feature was on Contour’s poorly designed NoteRiser.
Another great benefit of the LSoW is its utility on shallow (front-to-back) desks. By hanging the laptop off the front of the desk, the effective depth of the desk is increased by six or seven inches. This increase in desk space is very welcome in cramped quarters like a college dorm. And speaking of desk space, the wheels make it easy to roll the stand off to the side if you need workspace in front of you. I would have absolutely loved a stand like this in college, where the desks were never big enough and my laptop was always in the way.
After a month of using the LSoW on a daily basis, I find myself wishing for a similar product for my external mouse, which is now sitting far enough back on the desk that I find it bothersome to have to reach for it. Obviously, using an external keyboard is virtually out of the question, but recent PowerBook and iBook keyboards are good enough to use full-time without being uncomfortable.
Ergonomically, the Laptop Stand on Wheels is without peer. There’s no way you’re going to get this comfortable at your desk using any other product, or combination thereof, without replacing your entire workspace (including your desk) with a multi-thousand-dollar product such as something from ErgoQuest. Considering the competition, the $80 price is a bargain. It isn’t the best solution for people who hate laptop keyboards (sorry, no suggestions there) or for people with stiff-backed chairs (buy a new desk chair; you’ll thank yourself later), but it’s darn near perfect for almost everyone else.