As many of you may know it was my birthday recently in early March and upon looking in an independent hard ware shop in town because I received birthday vouchers from one of my friends, I gingerly looked around the store to see what my vouchers could buy. There were lots of things from gadgets like USB lights that you can plug into your computer for portable lights to USB powered gadgets that really wouldn't make my life easier other than to clog up an already busy work station at home and largely there wasn't much to see at the time of purchase. Over household appliances and scented candles, I'm very much at home in a computer or hardware store. Something always catches my eyes and something always makes me think rather than impulse buying when it comes to computer accessories. That is when my eyes found the laptop accessory section and one gadget I knew I couldn't live without - a laptop tray cushion or a laptop stand that could be quite useful to have at home when I'm watching television. Whilst it would be useful to have at home, a portable laptop stand for my knees would be perfect for work, especially in meetings where I find it a lot easier to take the minutes just by having my laptop with me. I've already tried the alternative - those tea trays with the bean cushions attached but even with a rubberised base, the laptops don't sit properly and end up being a rather cumbersome affair when the computer can't be angled. Without a tray, the laptop ends up giving me burning knees and dependent on the computer in question, it can be uncomfortable due to the flat bases that some laptops have (Mac and my Dell) compared to older work laptops that have jutting bits of plastic that end up digging into my thighs or knees.
The Product, The Price & The Promise
At the time of purchase there were two options - a dark grey tea tray style laptop tray with a huge swathe of plastic complete with round pen tidy partitions and a cover that swung over to lock it all down with a detachable side on USB "bendy metal spine" light sited on the right hand side. The cost price of £25-99 wasn't too bad but the overall look and size put me right off compared to the much thinner light grey and white colour mix Targus laptop "Comfort" stand priced at £15-99 without any feature other than a "free" 3GB memory stick taped to its package sleeve. After purchasing my Intenso 32GB memory stick, it seemed like a waste of a free offer - but you can't knock a memory stick back, regardless of whether its free or not - and I was quite taken with the more streamlined, basic design that Targus offer here with their "AWE62EU," Comfort Mat product, not just being impressed with the computer stand I had bought months earlier also made by Targus.
As with most things these days that constitute as a computer peripheral, you usually get what you pay for or find that there's a rather useful added plus to the design. Here, Targus present a white and grey PVC light grey Neoprene permanently backed top and base stand designed on an angle like a "folder binder". The design is suitable for laptops to be placed up to 17" sizes and lower, with handy rubberised "teeth" at either side to store cables out of the way as well as an extremely handy storage section inside that comprises of pockets and nets to store other peripherals. Complete with twin roller locks at the bottom section, this laptop lap stand is quite compact and measures approximately 38cm by 30cm with a height of 5.3cm at the highest angle/bridge. At the top, Targus have lined a plastic rubberised ventilation grid in which the laptop of choice is placed, to aid cooling in use with section base grippers to hold the laptop in place and a soft rubberised main carry handle to transport. Who said anything about being basic?
Generally if you have owned a Targus product before, the quality to the eye and fingers is often hit and miss due to the Chinese construction and production in tandem. For the price I paid, I think Targus have produced a reasonable product here with only a few downsides where the quality is concerned. With the use of my old Macbook 13.3" and Dell Lattitude 15", both laptops are extremely secure on the rubberised grid plate that seems to grip the computer bases very easily.
The stitching of the pockets inside the laptop stand for example are okay and feel as if they are made to carry bulky peripherals and whilst there is a central pocket that can take a few peripherals, both the central pocket and the two smaller pockets located at the top have been stitched in tightly, suggesting that only lighter, thinner accessories can be stored on board such as cables, in-ear headphones and possibly at a push, even an iPod or mp3 portable player of almost all kinds of sizes. Thin slim memory external hard drives can also be stored, but they have to be of the type that mirror my 'super slim' Hitachi G-drive I bought last year, suitable for use with my Macbook Air. I didn't buy the Targus stand because of extra storage "on the go," but rather for sole use to balance my laptop on my knees for note taking and general work purposes, though the accessory storer slots inside are very handy to have as a bit of a bonus!
The weight of this laptop stand is approximately 1kg. Therefore the total weight suggests that whilst it is suitable for purpose, it isn't really designed to be overloaded with kit as the plastics just won't stand up to being used as a carrier for major PC/Mac peripherals or heavy, bulky accessories.
General Performance & Downsides
Although I took this stand in the shop and thought that it would be ideal for work, I've since discovered that it works well both at home and at work, sited on my compact table in my bedroom or on my knees at work when working portable style. Initially when I took it into work with me, I found the Targus AWE62EU to be very easy to work and its handy slim design means it can be stored like a normal A4 folder binder, put upright on a shelf when not required.
However, the size of it does not fit into a laptop case with the intention to zip up and lock the case up after use, regardless of whether your laptop carry case can accept up to 19" laptops. This is because of the width and general size of the Targus AWE62EU being a touch too bulky. Of course it will fit into a larger case should you leave it unzipped and privy to nosey people or the weather outside - but you won't be able to zip up the case because of its initial bulk. Thus, this laptop mat stand really requires a bag of its own to accommodate it in, should you wish to travel with it.
Otherwise I find the Targus laptop store mat to be a great friend to work with. The biggest advantage I like is that of the rubberised teeth on either side of the laptop stand where the cable from my Apple MagSafe charger can be threaded through from placing the charger inside on top of one of the net pockets, or even making a hole in one of the pockets to actually thread the cable through that and then through one of the 40 "size sloped" rubber teeth ensures excess cable worries are banished for good. Same with applying a corded mouse, threading it through both sides of the sloping teeth to ensure less excess cable, if working on a table and only using the track pad aboard the computers of choice when working with the case on my knees.
The Neoprene layer on the base is comfortable but rather thin to the eye. Here you don't get a bean bag filled cushion that will mould to your knees but the Neoprene material itself has a good effect of not becoming too hot generated by the heat in my body, after sitting for a long time. The computers in general, be them Macbooks or PC laptops also get a generous surface area where the top ventilation grid gives the computer a chance to cool down whilst being worked with. Granted whilst Apple's Macbooks have vents above by the keyboard at the bottom of the screen, the battery on the base still gets hot and the ventilation grid on the Targus gives the heat a chance to dissipate and escape.
In short, Targus have produced a lightweight laptop stand suitable for purpose, even if after a couple of hours, the actual weight of the computer of choice in question starts to get a bit heavy for my knees to contend with. However, I'd rather have the Targus than have nothing at all for support- the previous roasting I get with both laptops is uncomfortable, both with the flat design, excess cables everywhere and then the heat that both the Macbook 13.3" and Dell generate when made to be used cordless without their chargers added. The Macbook Air-11 seems to work better with this kind of stand as well as the fact that the ventilation top grid has removable bolsters that allow you to lock the base of the computer into the stand, ensuring it won't fall down as a precautionary design element. As a bonus I find that my tiny, thin Macbook Air can also be hidden away in this case and used as a carry case - as I suspect most netbooks that measure 11 inches or less would also suffice.
Another issue then is the fact that whilst the Targus AWE62EU is a cost effective laptop stand, the interior seems to have been made very much for the Apple user as opposed to PC laptop users. This is largely down to the compact interior inside that can just about take the bulky battery charger of my Dell at a push compared to comfortably accommodating just abut all kinds of Apple Macbook accessory without exerting pressure on the stand - especially if you lock it down securely with the two roller locks at the end of the stand.
The largest downside to the Targus AWE62EU is the availability aspect. It was a stand that was produced in 2004 and was on sale for quite a few number of years to 2011, making it more of a "trader" product that would be available in off line high street independent shops rather than franchises like Maplin. Online, www.play.com used to sell this stand as did a number of sellers including Amazon UK.
Other Sorts & Final Thoughts
Targus also produce a rather expensive alternative with a fan-fitted "cooling laptop mat," known as the "Chilli Laptop Mat," but it is in no way the same to the more basic laptop stand being offered here and it is quite pricey costing £23 to £60 for the added USB cord attached fan cooling system on board. Thus, it is handy to shop around for the Targus AWE62EU if you want a product that is cost effective and far simpler.
To conclude then, in an age where net books and laptops are becoming smaller, Targus would make a killing again with this base stand at universities alone! The AWE62EU laptop stand is sensibly designed, slightly bulky but above all gives my knees comfort when I have to work with laptops in general that require to be used portably without being chained to a table. My computers are also less likely to over heat thanks to the protective rubberised ventilation top and though it is without question, hard to find, it is one of the more compact units on the market that offers users comfort and accommodation for accessories. Above all else, though it is made of lightweight plastic, for the price I paid, it is a far slimmer effort than what I would have ended up with. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2013.