iLap, by Rain Design Inc
Posted: 31-Oct-2004

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Rain Design Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bill Catambay Class: HARDWARE

Overview
If you are a proud owner of a G4 Powerbook, or any other Apple laptop computer, then you are aware, like I am, of how hot these laptops can get. One solution to turning down the heat is by using a fan-cooling laptop stand, such as the MacMice iBreeze. However, the iBreeze is designed for desktop use, and most laptop owners have a varying number of locations they like to use their laptop besides their desktop, such as in a chair or a sofa where there is no desktop space available. On an airplane, those fold down dinner trays on the back of the seat in front of you are hardly a decent platform for your Powerbook. To solve the problems of heat as well as ergonomic comfort, Rain Design has engineered a versatile stand for your Powerbook called the iLap. The iLap is a laptop stand that keeps your laptop cool, and at the same time, lets you work comfortably on your lap as well as at your desk. Designed specifically to fit the Apple Powerbooks, the iLap laptop stand is made of aluminum with sand-blasted and silver anodized finish. iLap is also suitable for other laptops as well. It comes in five sizes: 12 inch, 14 inch, 15 inch, 15 inch widescreen and 17 inch widescreen versions.

This review was of the 15" iLap used with my 15" G4 Aluminum Powerbook. This iLap retails for $59.90.

Features

  • iLap keeps your laptop cool by using light weight aluminum as a cool sink.
  • Allows your laptop to run more efficiently and last longer.
  • iLap raises your laptop to keep your lap cool.
  • Padded with velvet cushions for extra comfort.
  • iLap is ergonomically designed to suit both lap and desk works, so you stay cool even on prolonged use.
  • Raises your laptop screen higher to reduce strain on your neck and shoulders.


Setup
The iLap comes pre-assembled, except for the detachable front cushion that is used for when you have the computer on your lap. Out of the box, it's ready to use instantly on your desktop. The cushion is easily fastened on to the front of the iLap to provide you the comfort of working from your Powerbook on your lap.


(left) iLap without cushion for desktop use, (right) iLap with cushion for lap use

In Use
The iLap is made of a cool aluminum material with a swivel cushioned back that elevates the iLap to just the right angle. When using the iLap on a desktop, you leave off the front cushion, and the iLap sits at just the right angle to making typing on your Powerbook a better experience. I rarely use my Powerbook on a desktop - mainly because I already have three other desktop Macs: a G3 and a G4 at home, and a G4 at work. However, when using my Powerbook on a desktop, I did find that it was much nicer to work on with the iLap stand.

The real test for me was using the iLap from the places that I normally use my Powerbook. I like to use it while sitting on the sofa watching TV, often times laying on a bed, and once in awhile while in a plane on a business trip. Without the iLap, my Powerbook really heats up when in use, which makes it less likely that I'll keep it on my lap for too long. At some point, I'll move it from my lap to the coffee table, which requires me to hunch over quite a bit.


Side view of the iLap with the front cushion attached

To use the iLap on my lap, I first attached the velvet cushion that comes with the iLap. It attaches quite simply with a velcro strip that holds the cushion firmly in place. I then put my Powerbook on the iLap (a very good fit), and then placed the iLap on my lap. I immediately found it to be far more comfortable than without the iLap. The back cushion of the iLap swivels, so I was able to adjust it to my comfort level no matter what position I chose to sit in. As time went by and the Powerbook began to heat up (as it usually does), I never really noticed. This meant I could continue using it from my lap instead of moving it to the coffee table like I normally do. The aluminum base of the iLap on which the Powerbook sits acts similar to the heatsink in your computer by absorbing the heat. It doesn't take all the heat, however, so it never heats up to any level of discomfort. With the cushion padding that separates the iLap from my lap, I noticed the heat even less, to the point that there was absolutely no discomfort due to heat. The front cushion also acts as a nice wrist pad for typing on the Powerbook.


Using the iLap on your lap


When using the Powerbook while laying in bed (whether my own, or some hotel room on a business trip), I found the iLap to provide better ergonomics. I'm sure that an ergonomic expert would tell you not to use a Powerbook while laying down, with or without an iLap, but sometimes that's just where I happen to be when I decide to boot it up. The point is, the iLap improves the experience by elevating the Powerbook and placing it at an angle that is better for typing. Whether I was sitting up in bed with the Powerbook on my lap, or laying down on my stomach with the Powerbook on the bed, the iLap improved the experience.

For a piece of metal with a couple of cushions, $59.90 seemed like a lot of money at first. However, given the investment I've already made in purchasing the Powerbook, and given the function of the iLap, the price tag justifies itself by way of greatly improving my use of the Powerbook. First of all, the iLap is engineered quite well. The aluminum base and swivel leg are very sturdy, and the padding is well stitched and very comfortable. More importantly, it functions exactly as advertised, greatly improving the ergonomics of working on my Powerbook, and thereby enhancing my enjoyment of using it. Finally, by drawing heat from the Powerbook, the iLap decreases the wear and tear that processor heat can cause, prolonging the life of your investment. The only thing missing is a carrying bag that allows me to tote my iLap along with the Powerbook.

Summary
The iLap is a versatile and compact laptop stand that is made for your Powerbook. It comes in a variety of sizes suited for all of the varying sizes of Powerbooks. The aluminum base absorbs heat from your Powerbook, making your Powerbook cooler to work with. Using the iLap with a Powerbook on your desktop, it provides an ergonomically improved elevation and angle. Using the iLap with the velcro attachable front cushion allows you to use your Powerbook on your lap with much more comfort, both by keeping the heat away from your lap, as well as providing just the right angle to work with. The iLap is one of those simple yet very cool product add-ons that truly enhances your Powerbook experience. If you are looking for something to make your Powerbook more comfortable to use, or are tired of it burning a hole in your lap, the iLap is the perfect Powerbook companion.


Pros

  • Absorbs heat from your Powerbook and keeps it off of your lap
  • Cushions provide additional comfort
  • Swivel cushion provides different angles for different lap sizes
  • Comes in a variety of sizes to meet your specific needs

Cons

  • You may need to shop for the right case to hold both your Powerbook and iLap


Overall Rating:

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice