While researching the Belkin above though, I came across the Targus Laptop Lap Store Mat, which was almost half the price. There were no negative reviews, so living by the philosophy that if you regret buying the cheaper one you can always get the more expensive one later (poor philosophy, but both are cheap enough to get away with applying it here!), I decided to give it a shot.
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After waiting 7 days the product arrived in a plain plastic courier bag, with no cardboard or padding. Despite the lack of packaging, the condition on arrival was fine. Other than minor indentations in the cushion underneath, which you’ll be able to see in the pictures below, it was perfect.
A little bit of protective cardboard would have been nice, but it was at least easy to open and friendly on the environment.
Having it out of its plastic bag and it’s my first chance to form an impression of the product. The plastic feels a little cheap if I’m honest, but it’s sturdy at the same time and feels like it should last reasonably well. It’s no premium product, but what did you expect for £8 delivered!
The laptop surface has plenty of holes for airflow, exactly what you want for a hot-running laptop. My laptop doesn’t generate an excessive amount of heat, but it is enough to make resting it on your lap uncomfortable for any length of time. I also don’t like the idea of blocking up air intakes with legs or fabric, which is what some laptop cushions, such as the Belkin I mentioned earlier, can do.
The included 2gb flash drive is a nice touch, but I’m not sure how it’s a “special introductory offer”. To me this implies a discounted first edition before they try to up sell you on an overpriced subscription. While this lap desk may cost about the same as a magazine, I don’t think I’d subscribe to monthly editions.
If the “open me” stickers weren’t a clue, this lap desk opens to reveal a storage compartment. The only use I can see for this is tucking away peripherals like an external hard drive. As the vertical grill in the side is rubber, you can easily poke a cable through without fuss. This is contrary to at least one Amazon review, which indicated you couldn’t do this without modifying it. Perhaps this is a newer revision?
The compartment is far to small to accommodate most laptops, an EEE PC or 11″ Macbook Air would probably fit but my 13″ Dell was far too deep and thick. I’m not really sure why you’d want to store a laptop in there anyway, unless you planned to take your laptop cooling mat out with you. Personally I can’t see it becoming the next must-have commuter accessory.
The underside fabric isn’t luxurious by any stretch, but it’s perfectly serviceable and has a bit of padding. It should be comfortable, even on bare legs. You can see the marks I alluded to earlier, which are the only blemishes I noticed.
On the lap it’s a good width. I don’t think you’d want anything narrower no matter how small your laptop is, or you’ll find yourself holding your legs together lest it fall between.
The Targus Laptop Store Mat represent excellent value. It’s well designed, highly affordable, shields you from heat, and provides breathing room for your laptop which a soft surface can not.
If you’re also considering the Belkin Laptop cushion as I was, there are certainly pros and cons.
If you’re not sure go for the Targus – if only because it’s cheaper. But there are some key differences which should help you decide which is the right one for you.
The Belkin elevates the laptop, bringing the screen closer to eye-level. This is better for your neck whilst not being any worse for your hands from an ergonomic point of view. However the Belkin doesn’t aid air flow at all, in fact the soft surface makes it worse than having your laptop on a simple hard surface cooling wise. If your laptop has a noisy fan or gets really hot, the Targus Mat, or even something with an integrated fan would be a better option.
The other consideration is the location of your laptop’s air vents. Apple tends to place them at the back between the screen hinges, so a soft surface such as the Belkin isn’t going to harm a Macbook’s cooling too much. However many PC laptops place the air vents on the underside, and if yours is one of them the Targus Mat is definitely the better option.
In the end, the better air flow without the noise and power draw of an extra fan was what sold me on the Targus Laptop Store Mat. The quality is great for £8, or even £15. In my opinion, you can’t go wrong with it. Buy one.