The Platform9 from Maiden New Zealand that I received in the mail was smooth, shiny and eminently touchable. This would be a very appropriate accessory for my aluminium MacBook Pro.
The Platform9 is a rather ingenious laptop stand. It’s made right here in New Zealand too — materials are sourced, laser cut and formed in West Auckland.
The stand is made from carefully machined acrylic and weighs about 900 grams. It’s 6 mm thick and feels sturdy without being heavy.
The review unit I received was clear in colour. Green yellow and orange tints are promised soon, though they’ll be known as Surf, Funk and Zest. The clear tint’s called Ice.
What’s different about the Platform9 is that it’s not just a flat slab of plastic. Instead it’s designed for those sitting at rest with their feet propped on a footstool, couch or chair and with their knees up. Or it can be used on a desk or table.
The stand is curved at the back or top to create a kind of hanger: if you have your feet propped up with knees bent the stand hangs down over your thighs. A lower lip holds the laptop in place.
Used as a stand on a desk the ‘hanger’ raises a laptop to a roughly 30 degree angle. This is cleverly thought out to provide a multi-purpose stand.
But even more than that: for those who prefer a mouse to a laptop’s built-in trackpad, there’s a small mouse pad attached to the side. Actually, attached makes it sound as though it’s a separate item, but the unit is all made from a single piece of clear acrylic.
The acrylic isn’t simply a solid slab of plastic though. Instead there are slots cut from it to allow for better ventilation.
One of the problems I have with my laptops is that I use them on my lap, and they get fiercely hot. This can cause discomfort, as it tends to burn my legs. In summer it’s even more intolerable because of the heat in general.
I don’t notice these problems so much in winter because I usually have several layers of warm and protective fabric between my legs and the computer.
You may also have seen studies that suggest other health dangers from prolonged use of laptops actually on your lap.
The Platform9 provides both protection from heat burn, and ventilation.
Somebody ‘lounging’ as I described above can prop the laptop against their legs and even use it with a mouse. They won’t have to try to balance the laptop somehow on the top of their knees, or between their thighs and chest.
The Platform9 is a very cunning idea. If you like to lounge around the house or laze about in bed watching videos, this will probably work well for you.
The integrated mouse platform handily disposes of the problem of how and where to use a mouse, if the laptop’s mousepad isn’t your thing.
I really like the Platform9, and feel it’s a great idea, elegantly expressed.
Why I can’t use the Platform9
Unfortunately though it’s not right for me, and I’m rather sad about that. I have some particular circumstances that mean I can’t use this stand.
For one thing, although I work with my laptop on my lap all the time, I’m usually sitting in a chair with arms. Because of the mouse pad the Platform9 is quite a bit wider than my laptop. I found it was constantly bumping up against the arms of the chair.
I also usually sit with my legs straight out in front of me and flat. Although the Platform9 is carefully designed to be able to be used on a desk, propping the laptop at an angle, it wasn’t especially comfortable for me, as it means the ‘legs’ rest on my shins.
Back problems over recent years have also inspired me to watch my posture. I now seldom ‘slump’ and instead sit fairly upright. For me the angles in this stand just aren’t right.
I have a further problem which will affect a certain segment of the population — I wear glasses to correct my vision.
Mine are progressive or graduated lenses. That means that the focus differs depending where I look through the lens.
If I look through the bottom part of the lens closer items are in focus. This is useful for reading books on my lap, for example. If I look through the middle part of the lens then items at middle distance are focused, and when I look through the upper part of the lens I can see clearly into the distance.
When I sit with the laptop flat on my lap I can look down at the keyboard, or through the middle part of my glasses at the screen. However, when I propped the computer on the Platform9, hung over my knees, it put the screen at an angle and distance where I just couldn’t read it.
For those millions of people who have better vision than I do, or who don’t have to wear glasses, this is unlikely to be any kind of a problem.
I’ve been working with my laptop on my lap for so long, that I never really realised how carefully positioned I have it. The fact is that I need the laptop in a very specific place to be able to see what I’m doing.
I had one other small problem with the Platform9. There’s a small raised lip at the front to keep the laptop in place. I found this edge to be just slightly too high with my MacBook Pro and uncomfortable for my wrists.
Because I don’t use a mouse (I favour a graphics tablet), the built-in mousepad was quite a hindrance. I suspect I’d have more use for the Platform9 if it didn’t have an integrated mousepad.
On my one attempt to try the stand with a mouse I moved my legs to the wrong angle and the mouse fell to the floor.
I like the Platform9 in conception and execution. It looks great, and it’s a clever idea. The acrylic is beautiful.
The edges are all smooth, and corners rounded. Construction looks sturdy, yet it’s lightweight. It has a shine and sparkle as it catches the light, making it very appealing.
It doesn’t work for me in practice because of my particular circumstances. If you like to use your laptop while lounging in chairs that don’t have arms, or on sofas, then it may be an excellent choice for you. If you like to use a mouse with your laptop, then this is clearly a winning feature.
My review unit had the mousepad on the right. The website promises
Left handed options available on request.
When I mentioned my problems with the mousepad to Dwayne Matthews, who provided the review unit, he mentioned plans to release a version without the mouse platform.
I also said I’d love to see a Platform9 for iPad — I think that would work beautifully for me — and he replied there was one in the works.
I’ll definitely be keen to give that a go, as I often read on my iPad while sitting in a chair.
Specs from the website
- Product material: Acrylic
- Product weight: 900.00grams
- Product thickness: 6.00mm
- Overall product height: 119.00mm
- Overall product length: 520.00mm
- Overall product depth: 326.00mm
- Recommended laptop width: 360.00mm (max)
- Recommended laptop weight: 5.0kgs (max)
- Mouse pad: 0.6mm White Polypropylene die-cut sheet
- Left handed options available on request
Cost as at Wednesday, 24 November 2010:
- Ice (clear): NZ$69.95
- Other colours: NZ$89.95
Buy it from Maiden New Zealand Ltd.
As I explained, this item doesn’t suit me. I’m giving away the Ice Platform9 (hardly used) to one lucky reader.
I’ll pay postage within New Zealand, but if you’re overseas and win this item you must cover postage costs via Paypal.
To have a chance at winning this Platform9 you must:
- leave a comment on this post explaining how this Platform9 laptop stand would be right for you.
- provide a valid email address with your comment (address is not published and won’t be added to a mailing list).
- leave your comment before 11:59 pm New Zealand time on 30 November 2010. (See this in your timezone.)
Each person commenting has a single chance to win. Multiple comments will not count multiple times.
I reserve the right to edit comments. Comments that appear to me to be spam will be deleted.
After the entries close I will draw a winner at random, announce the result here and email the person.
Start your comments now!