The idea of working from anywhere in the world is a compelling one. It has always been one of our goals to figure out how to make a living while traveling America, and eventually the wide world. I think all of us who pursue this dream imagine golden moments without our laptops on the beach or in the high alpine mountains. The reality of it tends to be rather different. For me, most of my computer time is sitting in the galley of my trailer with my laptop on the dining table. It is neither a great place to sit for long periods nor terribly inspiring.
It was a combination of wanting to work outside more and concern for my health that led me to seek out an alternative. My first concern was that I wanted some way to work standing up. Secondly, I wanted something I could take with me nearly anywhere and use my laptop comfortably. Finally, I wanted something sturdy enough I wouldn’t be constantly worried about it tipping over or falling apart.
What I ended up getting
After a long bout of scouring product reviews, I decided to try out the Quik Lock LPH-oo3 Laptop Stand. Overall, I liked the tripod style laptop stands better than the style with four legs. This Quik Lock stand can adjust from 30″ to nearly 50″ in height. This means I can use it sitting down or standing up with a quick adjustment. The tripod can also be pulled in close to a chair or bench and needs only a small, level area to stand on. The tripod style stands also had a better track record with reviewers for being stable than the four legged free standing options. What gave the Quik Lock the edge over other laptop tripods was that it had a built in mouse tray as where many other brands did not.
The laptop sits on an adjustable platform at the top. It has a grippy surface and four adjustable arms to hold it in place. Reviews varied widely as to how big a laptop it could accommodate. I think that is due to how people try to use the arms. The two bottom arms will always fit fine. The two back arms are a tad too short to grab both sides of a largish 15″ laptop like mine. I was able to put one arm on the side, and another around the back and this fit fine and held my laptop firmly in place.
Trying it out
Overall the stand felt sturdy and stable. I would not use it in a high wind, but even at its highest extension, it would take a good solid shove to knock it over. I was delighted to find that even at 6’3″, it was comfortable to use standing up, a little short of its maximum height. It also worked well sitting down in a camp chair at its lowest setting. If you are short, it may be a little too tall in a low chair but it worked great for me. In a desk or dining chair, it should work for near anyone. I was concerned that a comfortable standing typing position would have me bending my neck to look down at the screen. This proved not to be an issue. To make a comfortable typing surface I had to angle the keyboard a fair bit and this resulted in the screen being at a great angle for viewing while standing straight.
The only downside was that the mouse tray was simply too small for my mouse. It has metal rims to keep the mouse in place when not in use, but this affords almost no range of motion for a standard mouse. A small wireless mouse would work, but it still feels like you have little room to maneuver. I decided instead to get a Logitech M570 wireless trackball. It fit perfectly in the tray and I am fairly comfortable using one for work applications. A little practice and I barely noticed the difference.
Once the weather was nice enough, I took it for a spin outside the trailer. I worked for about 90 minutes standing and found it to be very comfortable. I’m not used to standing while working but had no real issues with posture or position. I did get a little tired and switched to sit down mode. I worked for another 60 minutes in the camp chair without any problems. All in all, I’d say it is a big success. I definitely give the Quik Lock a recommendation if you want a versatile laptop stand for both standing and sitting.
Have laptop, will travel
The final test was to see how just how portable the thing is. Sturdy comes with some cost in terms of weight. The stand weighs just over 13lb which is not what I’d call light. For travel, you detach the platform from the tripod, fold up the arms on the platform, and then collapse the tripod. The tripod is about 18″ long folded up, and the platform about 12″ square and 4″ thick with a fair number of pointy surfaces. I don’t think I’d be quick to take it on a long backpacking trip but you could if you were determined to. I had no trouble finding a storage spot for it in the trailer and it would be no sweat taking it anywhere that I’d bring a camp chair or cooler. It would be amazing if it were just a bit lighter and sleeker. As is, it’s good enough for my needs.
All in all, I think it’s a great product and I suspect I will get a lot of use out of it. It will allow me to switch things up for long work sessions and to do some writing in inspiring locations. One thing to keep in mind; the outdoors are not always laptop friendly. Strong winds can tip over your stand. Rain is an issue for most laptops. You can’t stray too long from a power source. Strong sunlight can make reading the screen a challenge and direct sun could overheat your computer. Bugs may find you or your screen attractive in the evening. And as I discovered, birds and butterflies are pretty good at distracting you from your work. All that said, it was great to get outside in the open air and continue to work on our blog and I plan on doing more of that in the future with my new portable workstation.