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The lap desk is hardly a recent invention — Thomas Jefferson wrote the entire Declaration of Independence on a lap desk of his own design that he called a “writing box” for instance — but today’s versions are designed to accommodate modern technology rather than feather quills and ink wells. However the basic principles of the item remain the same: small, portable, and comfortable to use no matter where you’re seated.
What to Look for In a Lap Desk
The best lap desk is a relatively uncomplicated piece of furniture, but there are some elements which can elevate some versions over others. Here are some things we look for.
Cushion: As the name suggests, a good lap desk will sit on your lap, so memory foam or other cushioning on the underside of the desk will make it more comfortable to use. You can find desks with just one big pad underneath, which may be cozier but offers less stability. Other desks feature firmer cushions on only the ends, which is still soft on your knees and legs but a little sturdier.
Size: One of the main requirements for a lap desk is that it should be portable enough to move from spot to spot, which is why they tend to be on the small end in terms of surface area. However a good lap desk should still be large enough to comfortably fit a 17-inch laptop, and maybe even a mouse.
Devices: While Jefferson’s lap desk included a large storage space to fit all of his writing implements, today’s lap desks include specific elements designed for all of your gadgets. This includes fitted grooves for tablets and smart phones, a ledge to stop your computer from sliding off, and some even come with mouse pads built in. All are great additions to keep in mind.
1. LapGear Home Office Lap Desk
This desk is like a fully-functional workspace to go. It is 21 inches across, including the built-in mousepad, which makes it just the right size for laptops of up to 16 inches plus a wired or wireless mouse. We also like that above the mousepad there is a groove on which you can stand your smart phone, creating your own little portable command station. And when you’re ready to move, back up your devices and grab the desk by the included handle. Ample padding makes this soft on your knees and thighs too.
2. HUANUO Lap Laptop Desk
We love the cushion situation on this lap desk. The angled memory foam cushion on the bottom of the desk conforms to the shape of your lap and angles the desk surface to a comfortable position for working. Plus: this desk also includes a narrow bolster on the surface, which acts as both wrist cushion and ledge to keep your laptop in place. There’s space for a mouse or notepad, and a groove for your phone as well.
3. Sofia + Sam Oversized Memory Foam Lap Desk
At 22 inches in length, this is one of the largest lap desks among our picks, and is a great choice if you want to work with a larger computer and an external mouse at the same time. It also features a slightly angled memory foam cushion, as well as a curved shape that sort of encircles the body rather than jut against it, making for more comfortable positioning. The high-gloss wood-style surface adds an elevated touch.
4. Bamboo Wood Lap Desk
Need to work on the go, from an airplane, car or hotel room? This lap desk is quite small — at just over 15 inches — which doesn’t fit large devices and accessories as well, but is much more convenient to travel around with, which is a major consideration. Other things we like about this desk include the eco-friendly bamboo wood, and the adjustable bolster cushion.