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One advantage of technology is the ability to work anywhere. You’re no longer chained to your desk. Now, you can work on the sofa, in bed, on an airplane, in a waiting room, by the pool—the possibilities are endless. (Admittedly, some critics have argued that the ability to work anywhere means you can never stop working—but that’s another article.)
Having the ability to work anywhere doesn’t mean that it’s always convenient or comfortable to do so. For example, laptops can get pretty hot—hot enough to burn your legs if you’re wearing shorts. And even if you’re wearing pants, you’ll definitely feel the heat. In addition, when your laptop reaches high temperatures, you run the risk of damaging the hardware.
In addition to your laptop, you may also work with a tablet and smartphone. It’s awkward to juggle all of these items in your lap or keep them nearby.
A lap desk is an ingenious solution that provides a hard surface. Some versions also have cushions underneath to make them comfortable on your legs, while other models have legs, so they’re positioned over your lap. We researched the best laps desks, considering various types, price points, and materials.
Best Overall: AboveTEK Lap Desk
Built-in mouse pad
Slots for tablet, phone, and pens
No color options
Cannot adjust angle
Dimensions: 21.7 x 14.4 inches | Item weight: 6.67 pounds | Surface: Wood | Carry handle: Yes | Wrist rest: Yes
The AboveTEK Portable Ultimate Lap Desk is called “ultimate” for a reason. It includes everything you need in a lap desk, including a few features you may not have thought about. It’s a spacious 21.7 x 14.4 inches, providing plenty of room for laptops up to 17 inches. There’s a designated space for your mouse: an integrated leather mouse pad that works with most types of mice, providing smooth movement. The lap desk also includes a slot for your tablet, a separate slot for your phone, and even a pen pocket, so you can keep everything you need handy.
There’s also a comfortable built-in wrist pad to provide ergonomic support as you type. In addition, five nonslip pads keep your laptop firmly in place, preventing it from slipping or sliding off the surface. The lap desk is made of eco-friendly wood and two cushions underneath to provide comfort when in your lap (in addition to the cushiony wrist support). The lap desk weighs 6.67 pounds and has a carry handle for easy transport. You can’t adjust the angle of the desk, but because you can adjust your laptop’s screen, that shouldn’t be a problem for most people. The lap desk is spacious, durable, practical, and cost-effective, making it our top pick.
Best Budget: Huanuo Adjustable Lap Desk
Eight adjustable angles
No space for other items
No color options
Dimensions: 14.8 x 11 inches | Item weight: 1.04 pounds | Surface: Plastic | Carry handle: Yes | Wrist rest: No
If you want to get a good laptop without spending a lot of money, the Huanuo Adjustable Lap Desk has the best price we’ve seen. For less than $20, it provides eight adjustable angles. The platform is 14.8 x 11 inches, making it a good option for holding not just laptops but also tablets and phones, in addition to using it for writing or drawing. It also has an anti-slip rail to keep items from falling off.
The plastic platform sits on top of two cotton pads that make it comfortable to hold the lap desk, although it can also be placed on a table or other surface. At 1.04 pounds, it’s also lightweight and has a handle for transporting.
Best Color Choices: LapGear Lap Desk with Device Ledge
Multiple color choices
No wrist support
Dimensions: 21.1 x 12 inches | Item weight: 3.04 pounds | Surface: Plastic | Carry handle: Yes | Wrist rest: No
If you like color choices, you’ll like the LapGear Home Lap Desk with Device Ledge. It’s available in white marble, blush pink, espresso woodgrain, oak woodgrain, black carbon, and silver carbon. But the lap desk delivers more than just a choice of pretty colors. It’s 21.1 x 12 inches and can fit up to a 15.6-inch laptop and most types of tablets. There’s also an integrated mouse pad in a 5 x 9-inch space, and above the mouse pad is a smartphone slot. The dual cushions keep the lap desk from being directly on your lap, and they make it comfortable to hold.
The lap desk does not provide wrist support, but it does have a device ledge to keep your laptop or tablet from falling off. And even though it’s an economical choice, the lap desk includes a convenient carrying strap.
Best for Laptop Only: Mind Reader Adjustable Laptop Desk
Eight adjustable positions
Plenty of color options
Has a laptop stopper
No room for any other items
No wrist support
Dimensions: 11.12 x 14.75 inches | Item weight: 1.9 pounds | Surface: Plastic | Carry handle: Yes | Wrist rest: No
If you’re looking for a lap desk to hold your laptop only, consider the Mind Reader Adjustable 8 Position Lap Top Desk. With eight angle options, you can find the perfect way to provide ergonomic support while working. It also has an easy pop-up lip to keep your laptop in place. The plastic surface is the perfect size for laptops and ideal for those who don’t want accessories in the way while working.
It’s available in numerous colors, including green, black, blue, gray, pink, and red. (However, be advised that the price increases or decreases depending on the color you choose.) There are also two pillows underneath to provide comfort and support and a carry handle.
Best Height Adjustable: TaoTronics Lap Desk
Doesn’t rest on your lap
Adjusts up to 12 inches high
Retractable legs fold almost flat
Tilts up to 35 degrees
No carrying handle
No wrist support
Dimensions: 26 x 14.75 inches | Item weight: 5.69 pounds | Surface: Particle board | Carry handle: No | Wrist rest: No
If you want a laptop that can adjust in height considerably, the TaoTronics Lap Desk is a good option. It adjusts in height from 9.5 to 12.6 inches, so it can easily help to improve your posture and eliminate the need to strain your eyes. In addition to adjusting in height, it also tilts from 0 to 35 degrees to help you find the perfect angle. Because the lap desk is on legs, it doesn’t sit on your lap. Instead, the legs fit on either side of your lap.
The lap desk is 23.6 x 13 inches, so the surface provides plenty of space for not only your laptop but several other items. It has a polished wooden surface, anti-skid feet, and a laptop/mouse stopper to keep them from sliding off the desk. The lap desk doesn’t have a carrying handle, but the legs fold underneath, making it easy to both carry and store. The lap desk is available in large and medium sizes and in black, brown, and light oak plywood colors—all of which have brushed finish legs.
Best With Storage: SAIJA Adjustable Laptop Stand
Might be too big for some
Dimensions: 23.6 x 17.7 inches | Item weight: 9.92 pounds | Surface: MDF covered by PVC leather | Carry handle: No | Wrist rest: No
If you want a lap desk with adjustable legs and plenty of extra features, consider the SAIJI Laptop Desk. It’s the most expensive option on our list, but it’s also the most versatile. The generous surface is 23.6 x 17.7 inches, so there’s plenty of space for several items. There’s a storage drawer on the left side that’s large enough to hold your smartphone and several other items. In addition, the foldable book stand can store a good-sized book closed, or when it’s open, you can use the clips to keep the book open to the correct page as you’re reading. You can also store your smartphone in part of the book stand slot.
There are also detachable mouse and laptop slips to keep these items from sliding off. In addition, the laptop desk can adjust in height several inches, and the lap desk can tilt as well. When not in use, you can fold the legs under the desk for easy storage. The surface is made of MDF covered by PVC leather and is available in black and gray.
Best With Cup Holder: LapGear Cup Holder Lap Desk
Holds a 12-ounce can
Four color choices
Can only hold mouse or smartphone, but not both
No wrist support
Dimensions: 18.5 x 14.75 inches | Item weight: 3.45 pounds | Surface: Woodgrain inspired/marble inspired | Carry handle: Yes | Wrist rest: No
If you prefer to keep beverages close by as you work, the LapGear Cup Holder Lap Desk lets you do just that. The built-in cup holder is deep enough to keep a 12-ounce can securely in place, so you don’t have to worry about it toppling over. The surface is 18.5 x 14.75 inches, so there’s also enough room for a 15.6-inch laptop (but you can’t center it on the surface if you’re also using the cup holder). There’s room for either a mouse or a smartphone on the lap desk.
The microbead-filled cushion beneath makes it comfortable to hold on your lap. There’s also a device ledge to keep your laptop from sliding off of the lap desk, and the carrying strap makes it easy to transport. Color choices include espresso woodgrain, gray woodgrain, rose gold marble, and white marble.
Best With Bed Tray: Sofia + Sam Bamboo Lap Desk
Built-in mouse pad
Slots for tablet and smartphone
Holes to feed cords through
Legs don’t adjust
Dimensions: 21.5 x 9.25 inches | Item weight: 8.6 pounds | Surface: Wood | Carry handle: No | Wrist rest: No
If you plan on using your lap desk in bed, the Sofia + Sam Multi Tasking Lap Desk is a versatile option. It allows you to adjust the height on just one side for your laptop or tablet, and there’s also a wood bump to keep it from sliding off. However, the right side of the lap desk—which includes the mouse pad—lies flat, which provides a more ergonomic experience for your wrist. The lap desk is 21.5 x 9.25 inches and also has a storage drawer for pens and pencils.
The legs don’t adjust in height, but they can be folded for storage. There are also slots for your tablet and smartphone, as well as cord holes that make it easy to charge them when stored in the slots.
Best Cooling: Huanuo Adjustable Lap Desk with Cooling Fan
Five adjustable angles
Detachable cushion and mouse pad
No color options
No room for other objects on surface
Dimensions:16.1 x 11.6 inches | Item weight: 3.9 pounds | Surface: Plastic | Carry handle: Yes | Wrist rest: No
Laptops can get hot, and the Huanuo Adjustable Lap Desk includes a cooling fan to keep it from overheating. The fan plugs into your laptop via the USB port. The lap desk also includes a detachable air-mesh cushion for use on your lap. (When using it on a tabletop, you would remove the cushion.) Also, you can adjust the lap desk’s angle up to 30 degrees, and there’s a plastic lip that keeps the laptop from sliding around.
The mouse pad is detachable and can attach to either the right or the left side of the lap desk. Because it is not a permanent part of the lap desk, the mouse pad’s height does not adjust, which allows it to remain in an ergonomic position.
The AboveTEK Portable Ultimate Lap Desk (view at Amazon) is our top pick. It has two slots for a tablet and phone, as well as a built-in leather mouse pad and wrist support. The cushions make it comfortable to hold on your lap, and there’s a handle to easily transport it. If you prefer a lap desk with legs, the TaoTronics Lap Desk (view on Amazon) can increase in height up to 12 inches, and it can also tilt up to 35 degrees, making it a good ergonomic option.
Is it safe to hold a lap desk in your lap?
Laptops can generate a significant amount of heat. It’s advisable not to place them directly on your lap, or on a bed, sofa, or other soft surfaces that will block airflow. However, all of the lap desks that we choose have a hard surface (and one has a fan). In addition, some laptops have rubber feet to help raise them off hard surfaces, so there are no safety concerns with these lap desks.
Are lap desks ergonomic?
Lap desks offer different types of ergonomic support. For example, some have wrist cushions to support your wrist and prevent discomfort. Other lap desks allow you to tilt the laptop or tablet, typically up to 30 or 35 degrees, to provide a better angle that reduces posture problems. Lap desks that go across your lap (instead of on it) tend to have adjustable feet that can increase in height by several inches to bring it closer to eye level, which can reduce eye, neck, and back strain.
What are some tips for choosing a lap desk?
The first and most important tip is to make sure that the lap desk has a hard surface to provide enough room for air to freely circulate under a laptop. Aside from that, personal preferences will probably determine what’s best for your needs. Lap desks that you can hold on your lap tend to be more compact, so they are ideal for tight spaces like planes and other types of public transportation, waiting rooms, and other places where there’s not a lot of space.
Lap desks with adjustable legs are usually larger and provide more surface space. In addition, the adjustable legs allow you to raise them significantly higher, which can provide more comfortable use for long periods of time. You may also want a multifunctional lap desk; for example, something the kids can use while doing homework. Another consideration is ease of transportation and storage. In addition, if you like to keep more than one device handy at a time, you may prefer a lap desk with slots for smartphones, etc.
Why Trust Investopedia?
After researching dozens of highly rated lap desks, we narrowed down our picks using several factors. A safe laptop surface that was not conducive to overheating was the most important factor. Next, we looked at various types of ergonomic support. Another important factor was a productive surface that included room and support for a mouse and additional devices. We also evaluated the quality of each product, including materials and sturdiness, and provided selections at a variety of price points.
Terri Williams is a professional writer who has tested hundreds of products. She has written product reviews for Tom’s Guide, The Spruce, Bob Vila, Apartment Therapy, The Daily Beast, and more. She also has personal finance bylines at Time, Yahoo, The Balance, Realtor.com, and Investopedia.