For those of you whose laptop is your only computer (and that number is increasing), I imagine you have a spot where it generally resides. I know I do, though my primary machine is my PC. But the problem with this is that you end up with a sort of jumble of extra devices, external hard drives, and other miscellany all over your work area. The Attaché laptop stand aims to make your laptop workspace a little more organized and improve your experience as well. How does it fare?
The Attaché is kind of a conundrum. It’s great under some circumstances, but useless in others. The situation I describe above, where your laptop comes back to a little “base,” is the best possible situation for this thing. The Attaché sports a 4-port USB hub, so you can have a keyboard, mouse and hard drive all Attachéd to the laptop stand and ready to power up as soon as you plug in the stand itself. That’s a real bonus usability-wise and I think my parents would like it, not being a fan of plugging and unplugging things all the time.
The stand has four incline settings, which is good for those of us who are tall and end up with our necks bent looking down at the screen all the time. As you can see, it looks a little weird, but if you imagine it at your desk with your peripherals attached, it essentially transforms your desktop into a real monitor. It’s solidly built and pretty stable, so don’t worry about it snapping or flopping over.
So it’s great as a base. But for anything else, it’s not so good. They suggest putting the Attaché on your lap to prevent your legs getting toasty, but the bottom of the Attaché is somewhat convex, causing it to roll back and forth, especially since the laptop’s weight distribution will certainly be funky. So I can’t recommend it for that.
And if you don’t use an external mouse and keyboard, there’s another problem, though there’s sort of a solution. Laptops are getting awful thin these days, and as you can see, the little flaps that provide a “floor” for your laptop are about an inch tall. Not many laptop keyboards are a full inch thick, and certainly not the most compact and popular ones such as Vaios and Macbooks. This means your hand will rest uncomfortably on the flap when you are typing or using the trackpad. Weak. Fortunately, the flaps are thick enough that they work in the down position too. Unfortunately, this also shifts the weight up on the stand quite a bit, and with my MacBook Pro it made it unsteady at the elevation I preferred.
The fans! They do nothing!
The Attaché also has two fans and the entire face is aluminum, essentially making the whole thing a big heatsink. While this would help in a lap situation, I found putting it on my lap didn’t work, so that’s out the window. But to see how it affected temperature, I ran a little test. I set my SMCfancontrol to 3000rpm, told Aperture to export 50 RAW photos to full-size jpegs (maxes out both cores), and watched the temperature. It started at 109F, normal for my MBP. At about halfway through it levelled out at just over 150F. On the Attaché, with the fans on and everything, it averaged almost the exact same temperature, and the hottest part of my MBP (just above the keyboard) felt the same, though the bottom was almost certainly cooler. It’s probable that the table would eventually heat up and provide less of a heatsink, but I definitely didn’t see any practical difference in heat dissipation. To be honest, I think MBPs have heat problems and their underside heat dissipation is bad to begin with, so your mileage may vary.
Still, it’s nice
Basically, this is a good accessory if you often use external keyboards, mice, a Wacom tablet, that sort of thing. It really is more comfortable to have the screen at a normal height, so you can avoid some neck problems. But as for travelling, it’s not useful on your lap and too big to carry everywhere you go. I’d recommend it for those of you with a laptop-only setup at home, or as a gift for non-tech-savvy people like your aunt. At $70, it’s not too much of an investment, and though there are others for less, this one’s customizability and integrated USB ports make it a pretty reasonably-priced standout.