There’s a subcategory of home-tech goods that never quite get the same buying consideration as a TV or a computer...though they’re used just as frequently. Exhibit A: a remote control caddy. Do you keep them out of direct sight with a couch sleeve or do you make them a centerpiece in a creative catch-all on the coffee table? Another good in this forgotten category is the laptop lap desk. You could argue it’s the most frequently used accessory in the house, used for watching movies in bed, catching up on emails on the couch (especially if you're working as a stay-at-home parent), or keeping the kids occupied as a coloring book station.
Whatever its primary use will be in your house and whichever gadget it may be used with the most, a few qualities are essential when picking a lap desk. Comfort is a big one, whether it’s plane travel or a sick day movie marathon. Also essential is practicality — if you hate using a laptop’s built-in mouse, a lap desk with a tiny surface area that doesn’t accommodate an external mouse shouldn’t make it into your shopping cart.
We’ve gathered 10 of the best lap desks you can find online, including one wild card for those who prefer the ultra portability of a tablet to a laptop.
Neck strain from too many hours spent staring down at your laptop during yet another marathon of The Office is all too real. Create a cozy viewing space without leaving the bed with this sturdy desk built on foldable, locking metal legs. The wood work surface tilts 30 degrees, perfect for avoiding neck strain, whichever angle you watch from.
Shop: Adjustable Laptop Desk, $55.24, available at Target
If a lap desk is going to be a frequently seen accessory in your house, you might as well have some fun with it and show your allegiance to your Hogwarts house. Choose from the house colors of Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Hufflepuff, or a soft faux fur fabric to represent Harry’s owl, Hedwig. Each desk opens to storage compartments for all your wizardly secrets or charging cables.
Shop: Harry Potter Superstorage Lap Desk, $99, available at PBTeen
With airlines getting stricter every year on how much luggage can be brought on board for free, every square inch of a carry-on suitcase, backpack, or weekender bag has become sacred. Your usual set of travel accessories like an airplane pillow, external computer mouse, and, yes, a laptop lap desk will have to face more scrutiny during packing. When space is at a premium, but you can’t go without the function of a lap desk, the only option is this sleek 15-inches long and 0.6-inches-deep beauty. Smaller than most laptops, it fits discreetly in a backpack.
Shop: AboveTek Portable Laptop Lap Desk with Retractable Mouse Pad Tray and Heat Shield, $25, available at Walmart
Meet: the sedan of lap desks, a reliable, familiar, and roomy model that’s easy on your checking account. Available in six colors with a comfortable pillow rest for your legs and a handle to carry from room to room, this is an ideal lap desk for most situations and budgets.
Shop: Honey-Can-Do Portable Laptop Lap Desk with Handle, $22.60, available on Amazon
Prevent yet more plastic from entering your home and ever reaching a landfill by opting for a bamboo lap desk. This two-piece bamboo organizer has a sturdy desk stand and comes with a companion lap board for laptops up to 17 inches with slots for smartphones, tablets, and charging cord access points.
Shop: Mayberry Health & Home Bamboo Computer Desk Organizer and Lap Desk, $35.95, available on Amazon
Look at your computer screen. Do you see 20+ browser tabs running, along with a music streaming app, and a photo-editing app? You are a laptop power user and need a lap desk that can handle long hours of use. Adjustable aluminum legs let you use the desk comfortably in a seated position on the couch or while standing at a table. The cooling fans prevent your computer from getting overheated, but we also recommend closing some tabs to prevent your brain from getting overheated.
Shop: RhinoFlex Adjustable Laptop Stand with Cooling Fans, $39.95, available on Amazon
Some days you need a surface for taking notes while learning Spanish on your Duolingo iPad app. Other days you’re deep in productivity with your laptop, external mouse, and phone ready to take on every work conference call and report. Get yourself a lap desk that can handle your needs any day of the week. In addition to the cushy wrist pad and comfortable leg cushions, we love that this lap desk doesn’t forget about any of your many gadgets.
Shop: Huanuo Lap Desk with Wrist Pad, Tablet Stand, Mouse Pad, and Phone Holder, $49.99, available on Amazon
Any old portable workstation won’t do for a gamer. More space is a necessity for a gamer setup, which includes large laptops (the better to see cutting-edge graphics), a big multifunctional mouse, and a ventilation option to keep the laptop fan breathing through the most intense of battles. Built by and for gamers is the Hover X+ Lap Desk, sized to accommodate a typical laptop gaming layout without forgoing aesthetics or comfort.
Shop: Hover X+ Lap Desk, $89.95, available from iSkelter
Most of the lap desks we recommend here offer an ergonomic improvement over the old laptop-in-lap method. We’re specifically calling the Sofia & Sam lap desk out for alignment value, thanks to a few features: the memory foam cushion (for happy wrists), sliding trays on the right or left for mouse users on either side (for happy lefties), and an onboard lamp (for happy eyes). Ready to store the desk away for the night? The lamp is removable and can be tucked away in a hidden storage compartment on the desk.
Shop: Sofia & Sam Memory Foam Lap Desk with Light, $33.99, available at Costco
While most lap desks will accommodate tablets, looking down at a lap desk isn’t exactly the most comfortable way to use your tablet. That flat screen needs to be boosted a little higher for comfortable use as a laptop replacement. Enter the very silly-looking but totally genius Tablift Universal Tablet Stand. Sure, it looks like a futuristic spider, but it can hold any size tablet at nearly any angle, even if you’re laying completely flat. Perfect for a neck strain-free experience reading ebooks or marathoning a favorite show.
Shop: Tablift Flexible Universal Tablet Stand, $39.95, available at The Grommet