Sunday, 1 September 2013

Farewell, Dave (Sob)

Just over four years ago I began writing this blog. The third post I wrote, during my first week, was about the Ikea 'Dave' laptop table. A dull subject? Not if you're a professional writer. Especially a professional writer who doesn't want his wrists to turn to jelly because he spends most of his day typing at a computer.

The great thing about Dave was that it wasn't just a flat table. You could tilt it at the proper angle for typing. Old fashioned typewriters were designed so your hands met the keyboard at a comfortable slant. Thus people didn't suffer from the kind of repetitive strain injury that can occur typing on a modern, flat computer keyboard.

Dave was absolutely the ideal solution. I was delighted when I bought it. But I should have bought three Daves. Or maybe three dozen.

Because the tilting mechanism which adjusts the angle of the table is made of plastic, and plastic grows brittle. After four years of constant motion and adjustment, Dave started to break up. The little plastic guide tabs that smooth out the tilting motion, and prevent the table tilting the wrong way, were the first things to go. And then poor Dave simply began to fall apart.

This probably wasn't surprising. I'd put the table to a lot of hard use. I estimate I typed a million words on it.

But of course, the very day I began to shop around for a replacement, Ikea announced it was putting Dave out of production. Classic Ikea. My heart sank. Then Ikea  announced a replacement laptop table called Svartasen. It looked just like Dave! It cost the same price as Dave! My heart soared. Then I read the fine print. And my heart sank again. Because the sinisterly named Svartasen doesn't tilt.

That's right, Ikea have taken their uniquely useful product and replaced it with one which is the same in every regard, except they've left out the uniquely useful aspect. Classic Ikea.

What followed was a frantic search on eBay. I finally managed to buy a replacement Dave from a nice lady scuba diver in Crystal Palace. It is white rather than the sexy red of my original. And being a later model it has been manufactured without those fragile little plastic tags my old one had. (Obviously as the years went by, Ikea decided to streamline the design and drop some of the more fiddly aspects of it.) This means the mechanism doesn't operate quite as smoothly as the original model, and it has a slight tendency to tip backwards.

But I'm not complaining. I'm back in action and busy typing my next million words.

(Image credits: The laptop on the red table is from Fat Bag. The white Dave is from Underpinmywindow, which is a blog by another Dave aficionado. The evil black Svartasen is from Ikea. Hiss. The photo of the broken plastic tag was taken with my own fair hand. Literally.)


  1. Ideally I could do with one of those purely for the keyboard so I don't have to sit so close to the computer screen (desktop user). As I suffer badly from the repetitive wrist strain of typing many words on a flat keyboard. Even tilted slightly with the bag legs of the keyboard doesn't help as much. Sometimes I do wish the keyboard manufacturers would opt for a typewriter style keyboard with raised keys, perhaps one day - we can only dream I suppose.

  2. There is one device you might like to try -- a kind of long gel filled pad on which you rest your wrists while typing. I can't find the exact one I purchased, but here's a link to something similar: I hope this helps! I know what a pain long-distance typing can be on badly designed keyboards. Alternatively you can seek out a "Dave" on eBay as I did. Good luck!

  3. I'm still writing on a desk I nicked after a store closing. I've had it 20 years and can't imagine writing on anything else.

    The wrist rest helps. I used to have one.

    Now I have a wireless keyboard that has solved most of my discomfort problems.

  4. Do you use the wireless keyboard flat on the desk, or remotely? For example in a nearby armchair with a mint julep to hand?

  5. Hah! No, just on the desk. It's necessary, as Momma Cat likes to rest her head on my arm as I type. Angling it makes it easier.

    I don't think I've ever had a mint julep...

  6. In case anyone is interested (I certainly am!), I did indeed find another red Dave, indeed two of them. I'm typing on one now. And I also bought a black model. Thank goodness for eBay. All the spares are stockpiled and ready to be called into service when needed. (When I say "stockpiled", they mostly have lava lamps on them.) Now, if I could only find a blue one...

  7. It seems you cannot even buy the Svaryasen now since 2019. Shame because I really wanted a couple more.

    Shouldn't be too hard to DIY one.

  8. I have a black Dave in my lift. Only used it for a few weeks and it's been up there since. Going to sell !