Wednesday 12 August 2009
Ikea Dave laptop table: a heartwarming success story (not words I often associate with Ikea)
I am a profesional writer so I spend a good portion of my life hunched over a laptop, madly typing away. I's important to be comfortable as possible while I'm doing this. I don't have to sit at a desk — that's one of the nice things about working at home; instead I sit on a sofa with the laptop, yep, in my lap. But you can't actually use a laptop like that. There is the issue of painful overheating, plus lambent paranoia about what the buzzing overheated electronics are doing to a fella's reproductive capability. ¶ So you need to set the laptop on something. You could always use a cushion or a pillow — yes, you could always do that if you wanted your computer to overheat and seize up in a terminal and very expensive disc crash. Or alternatively just burst into flame. ¶ The solution I arrived at was to use a pillow but to put a large book on top of the pillow (I mean a very large, but very thin book, a solid hardcover. For some reason I used to be fond of using A Pictorial History of Sex in the Movies by Pascall and Jeavons, Hamlyn 1975) and place the laptop on top of that. This provision of a hard flat surface for the computer allows its vents to 'breathe.' This is an adequte, but not an ideal solution. For a start, when you invite half a dozen actors around for a reading of your latest play, and they spot the book, they might laugh scornfully at your explanations to account for its presence on your sofa. Also the angle for your wrists when you're typing on this set up is far from perfect. ¶ I used to dream of commissioning a precision engineering firm to install one of those tables on a hydraulic arm which can be swung in and out, like they have to hold the instruments adjacent to the chair at a dentist's. Such a device fastened to the wall beside the sofa would, I imagined, hold my computer and be adjustable so I could set it at just the right height and position for typing. Colour me thunderstruck when I discovered that Ikea, of all people, had come up with a budget version of just such a mechanism. ¶ Yes, I have gone and purchased an Ikea Dave laptop table. And I like it. I like it a lot. Lest this become an encomium, though, let me list what I don't like about it. The only frustrating real design flaw so far is the painfully knurled adjustment knob which digs into my shin. I sit cross legged while I'm typing (did I mention on a sofa? While listening to jazz. Specifically Count Basie at the moment, as it happens) and presumably the ergonomic tests didn't allow for such an eccentric (indeed potentially subversive) posture. ¶ Also, it shakes while I type. Causing the screen to dance annoyingly. This is only a pain when I'm concentrating on something small on the screen. About the size of this font as I type this entry, as it happens. ¶ And then there is the slight problem (compounded by the shaking) that the laptop on which I'm typing starts to slide gradually off the table. You can't quite see from the picture at the top of this entry, but the table tilts to a convenient angle for typing. This angle combined with the almost but not quite brilliantly designed matte high-friction non-slip surface of Dave send my MacBook on occasional excursions over the precipice.