I’d rather be watching the rain, but I have to be working at my desk, facing a dull, blank wall. That is, until a waft of fresh air breathes some wisdom into my brain. So I pick up my MacBook Pro, head downstairs and stretch out on the sofa for some serious word processing.
LapDawg multifunction laptop stand; Price: $89
Freedom from furniture?
Isn’t that the whole point of a laptop? Take it anywhere, perch it on your lap and type away? No more inelegant computer desks with pull-out keyboard trays, a tangle of wires and an equally inelegant chair. Wi-Fi at home also ensures that I don’t have to be tethered to wires. At last, I can use any furniture for computing, or even better, experience total freedom from furniture.
Alas, my journey into this lap of freedom is shortlived. The heat from the laptop is unbearable, and a Web search on the health aspects of the thermal radiation brings little comfort.
I lug the laptop to the dining table, but it’s too low. So I improvise by placing a sofa cushion under it. Now, I’m using my forearms to pin it down while determinedly typing with my wrists hovering in the air.
That’s when it hits me: The notebook paradigm is incomplete. We have merely made the computer portable, but the word “laptop” is a misnomer. For comfortable and prolonged use, you’ll use it anywhere except the lap. In fact, I would rather find the most comfortable postures for myself, and then have the notebook somehow slide in and adapt itself to my comfort.
Right now, I am the one forcing and contorting my body into painful laptop yoga.
Like every serious notebook user, let’s start with my favourite position: lying flat on the back with the head and shoulders resting on a pillow or cushion.
The LapDawg multifunction table helps raise the notebook above the torso and legs, but keeps it within comfortable reach of the arms and wrists.
It can also precisely adjust the angle of the notebook, locking its supports at any point in 360-degree freedom. Simple push-button locks in the joints hold the position.
Laptop Laidback is another accessory, similar in nature. It is more restrictive by design, citing ergonomic reasons for not allowing 90-degree angles or use while sitting up in bed.
The experience of watching a movie full-screen on your laptop, hovering above and ahead of you in a darkened bedroom, outclasses the experience of watching it in a theatre. The angle of view of the screen, equals that of a large cinema screen at a distance. I let the audio stream to my surround-sound home theatre system for a full immersive experience.
On the desk, the LapDawg raises the screen to my eye level, while allowing space for an extra keyboard underneath. This transforms the set-up into a laptop workstation. An anodized aluminium surface with grooves ventilates the heat. Rubber grips offer a comfortable position for my wrists.
Laidback is made of a polymer material that makes it light, yet stable. The notebook stays in position, though optional velcros may tape it from a potential fall. On the lounge sofa, I can adjust the LapDawg to contour around me for comfortable use over long hours. Best of all, both the LapDawg and Laidback neatly fold into a compact tray size that can be shoved into a conveniently-sized laptop bag.
Gadget shops in India are somehow still obsessed with laptop trays, which are nothing more than fancy wedges that sit between your notebook and lap or desk, and may raise the laptop a few inches. These trays have their own utility, as some offer extra USB ports and even built-in fans to cool the notebook. But they are a struggle to use, even while sitting up in bed: Over time, my legs go numb.
However, if you wish to limit yourself with working on a desk, and need the cooling and the optional USB ports, try the trays from Belkin (Laptop Cooling Pad, $49.99, www.belkin.com), Logitech (Cooling Pad N100, www.logitech.com), Antec (Notebook Coolers, www.antec.com) or other non-branded Chinese ones.
If you want something fancy, take a look at the Jellyfish laptop stand (Rs5,200) made from colourful moulded plastic (contact 022-22073058 or 080-41163399).
Once furniture designers around the world focus their creativity on levitating the laptop, we may see a huge explosion of designs, material and form to complement our lifestyles.
Now, if only I can convince my clients to dismantle those office cubicles and consider pull-out sofa-cum-beds or lounge chairs that allow one to stretch with built-in footrests.
Make your own laptop stand
If you’re handy with tools and love tinkering with furniture design, why not build a do-it-yourself (DIY) laptop table? A growing community of people are sharing their
designs, using material from wood to metal and everything in between, with discussions around grooves and gears to hold and anchor notebooks in bed. Why don’t you submit photos of your own variations too? Log on to www.instructables.com/id/ a-better-laptop-stand-for-bed and scroll down the page to view photos and comments.
Laptop Laidback stand; Price: $99.99
TwitVid now on BlackBerry
BlackBerry users, who are also occasional videographers, will be tickled by TwitVid, a simple way to post short videos on Twitter using their phones (TwitVid and similar applications have been available in iTunes App Store for months). From the application, you simply click on “Record a New Video”, record it, enter your tweet and send. It will be posted on your Twitter page with a link to the video. Anyone with a video phone can use TwitVid, even without an application. Just log in to the TwitVid site, which will assign you an email address. Send a video as an MMS, or an email with the video as an attachment and your tweet in the subject line. It will post like a standard tweet. ©2009 / THE NEW YORK TIMES
Silence abounds on Disney home page for creativity
Like Times Square, Disney’s home page is a crowded, noisy place. But now, it will offer something radically different—a completely silent, blank canvas surrounded by creativity tools. Create.com, a mini website for Web creativity tools on Disney.com, has Digital Painter at its core, with features that Photoshop users used to dream about: Unlimited undo and redo, layers that can be moved, and no limit to the number of objects that can be stamped on the screen. ©2009 / THE NEW YORK TIMES
Try Sennheiser PMX 80 Sport II for uninterrupted music
Listening to music, podcasts or the radio while running isn’t for everyone. But for those who do want to listen to music, finding the right headphones can get personal, since not all ears are the same. Try the Sennheiser PMX 80 Sport II headphones, which have a sturdy and comfortable band that sits behind the neck. The Sennheisers are lightweight and unimposing. You don’t have to worry about them falling out. They don’t blip when exposed to moisture (Sennheiser says they can even be washed under running water). The vertical earbud design doesn’t compromise the sound quality either. These headphones are a bit expensive, listed at $70 on Sennheiser’s website. ©2009 / THE NEW YORK TIMES
Kingston helps save lot
Kingston recently launched what it claims is the world’s first 256GB USB flash drive. The Kingston Technology DataTraveler 300 can store thousands of image files and a whole database of documents. It comes with a new Password Traveler software which allows the creation of, and access to, the password-protected area on the drive called “Privacy Zone”. The USP of the drive, Kingston claims, is its quick transfer rate: It boasts speeds of up to 20 Mbps read and 10 Mbps write. It comes in a sleek cap-less design to protect it when not in use and is enhanced for Windows ReadyBoost. Backed by a five-year warranty and free technical support, the DataTraveler 300 costs Rs42,999. By A Staff Writer
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