lap desks for the lapless
September 23, 2007 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I use my laptop in bed, and on the couch. I worry that I am heating up my abdomen (ie, my unborn child) excessively, although there isn't much on the internet about that. Is there anything that anyone can recommend (ie, not a pillow, that just makes me warmer) to keep that hot machine farther away from my midsection, but close enough so I can type? Many thanks.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How about one of those kind of tables that hospitals use so patients can have breakfast in bed? I don't know what they're called, but I'm sure you can find them at various stores.
posted by Verdandi at 5:51 PM on September 23, 2007

Not sure of your gender here (and one could read "ie, my unborn child" to be either sexes), however, my wife recently gave birth to a very healthy baby girl and I used a laptop non-stop previous to conception. I often wondered the same thing. I guess if you are a guy, I wouldn't worry extensively, although it is a great idea to not warm your nether regions with lithium/whatever batteries. If you are female, I'm not sure of the implications... Either way, I found the previous comment to suggest what I would've as well.... A TV dinner tray or something?
posted by priested at 5:58 PM on September 23, 2007

A hot water bottle filled with cold water?
posted by flashboy at 6:00 PM on September 23, 2007

i think you should be okay, but if you're worried... ilap.
posted by sharkfu at 6:07 PM on September 23, 2007

I heard somewhere that if you are a guy this can kill your sperm count if you do it a lot. However, I believe it was the heat that was a factor, not anything particular to it being a laptop. I'm guessing that if you aren't uncomfortably hot it's probably ok. Probably wouldn't hurt to at least put some sort of barrier between you and it, balance it on a big book or a tray or something.
posted by whoaali at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2007

second the iLap, I bought one earlier this year and love it.
posted by lia at 6:12 PM on September 23, 2007

There are lots of commercial products designed to keep your lap isolated from the heat of your laptop. Many of them have built in usb powered fans.
posted by Mitheral at 6:18 PM on September 23, 2007

I'd read that laptops don't put off enough heat to damage a baby (if you're a pregnant woman like I thought you were from the question). However, I second Mitheral's post about laptop cooling products. I don't use them, but I've heard from friends that do that they work well.
posted by christinetheslp at 6:26 PM on September 23, 2007

You should also be aware that laptops put out a tremendous about of high frequency electromagnetic noise. While there is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that EM noise is dangerous (see cell phone/brain cancer debate) if you are the type of person who worries about this sort of thing, and steers baby away from microwaves and cell phones, I suppose you'll at least want to be consistent.
posted by Pastabagel at 6:29 PM on September 23, 2007

How about a slab of styrofoam - covered with cloth if you like?
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:41 PM on September 23, 2007

Any sort of tray that keeps the laptop well-separated from your skin should suffice. The inclined ones that leave plenty of air between the bottom of the tray and your body would be most effective. (You might search for a bed "reading tray" or "writing stand" or similar, which is essentially the same thing.)

Unless I'm some strange mutant, I think I speak for guys everywhere when I mention that our "unborn babies" are a bit lower than our abdomens. I'm fairly certain the OP is a female.
posted by fogster at 6:42 PM on September 23, 2007

I use one of the very, very cheap coolpads that's just a quarter inch thick piece of plastic with a couple of fans embedded...and the fans died after about a month...and it still makes a noticeable difference in how hot everything gets. When the fans still worked it was even better.
posted by anaelith at 7:31 PM on September 23, 2007

I bought one like this on eBay for the very same reason, and it is perfect. And the price was right.
posted by waywardgirl at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2007

I am currently in possession of an unborn child so I read this that OP is preggo, too. I've spent the last month on bedrest so laptopping in bed has become a specialty of mine. My laptop gets pretty hot when recharging. Mostly I use a big book or magazine under it to absorb the heat. I also have a little folding tray (like on tv when someone has breakfast in bed) but as I get bigger it becomes less of an option. If you're actually sitting up in bed, the laptop is more on your lap then your abdomen anyway so the heat shouldn't be much of an issue.
posted by wallaby at 7:36 PM on September 23, 2007

I'm assuming that the poster is a) female and b) pregnant due to "...for the lapless" in the title. Mrs True says: "I would lay on the couch and put it on my legs, rather than sitting on the couch with it on my lap". It was winter, so heat wasn't an issue in her case, but when it is hot here I generally use a piece of durock (tile underlayment) because it's what I have around the house. A piece of wood or one of the above mentioned desks would probably work just as well.
posted by true at 7:37 PM on September 23, 2007

These might work for you:


Easy Desk Aluminum
posted by melorama at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2007

One of the previously mentioned trays would be good. And you should seek to raise the laptop to a good ergonomic level. You may want to put pillows under your legs. Consider whether you have to tilt your head down to look at the screen. Otherwise, you may end up going to a physio. If you are indeed a pregnant woman, you don't need to add to the ergonomic challenges of pregnancy and parenting.
posted by acoutu at 7:52 PM on September 23, 2007

I'm also expecting and also a laptop addict. I bought one of those little lap desk things at Office Max -- leather rounded into a pillow shape, kind of, with a wood base. It was about $40 but I've seen them cheaper at Target, etc.

I keep that on one floor, on the other floor, I use a smooth piece of wood that I think was once part of a desk we had. Not sure, but it works great.

I don't know that the heat would hurt the baby, but like you, I wanted to be careful.
posted by GaelFC at 8:08 PM on September 23, 2007

I second the chillmat device that was mentioned earlier, although ours broke fairly soon after we got it as well. Now we just use a TV tray-type thing.
posted by Nabubrush at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2007

For working flat on my back, I've been very happy with the Laptop Laidback (it's like the Lap Dawg, above). For the couch, I put a slim hardback book beneath the machine.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:16 PM on September 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Do you imagine, for even a moment, that the puny wattage
of a laptop could seriously perturb your thermal equilibrium?

Do you ever sit in sunlight? If you do, do you worry
about your child? Sunlight is a thousand watts per square
meter, and is overall way more than a laptop.

You can easily test yourself for increase in body core
temperature. With a laptop that is off, assume your laptop
position for fifteen minutes, including pantomime typing.
Take your oral temperature. Turn on the laptop, and then
do your thing for about an hour. Take your temperature. Any
posted by the Real Dan at 11:07 PM on September 23, 2007

Verdandi had the same thought I did. Not for heat (which is not a concern, as Dan points out so eloquently), but for ergonomics. If you don't have a lap, get a table.

The hospital style, with the leg at one extreme end of the table, is generally handy to have around. My local university surplus store usually has a few, but if you'd rather not bring everything-resistant strains of crud into the house, I saw new ones for $50 this week at OfficeMax. Their version even has a tilting section specifically for laptops, but don't let that constrain your imagination; they're good for all sorts of stuff.
posted by Myself at 2:46 AM on September 24, 2007

The OP included a "pregnancy" tag, so yes, she's pregnant.
posted by jejune at 6:03 AM on September 24, 2007

The Lapinator is good, too.
posted by JanetLand at 6:35 AM on September 24, 2007

update from OP: Yes, I am a pregnant female. And my main concern is heat - when I read in more than a few places that taking a hot shower or bath will OMG BOIL THE BABY naturally I am concerned about the heat source that I put on my lap (or more accurately, my legs, under a pillow, but it does creep up) for several hours a day. Whether or not a warm laptop is of actual harm to an unborn child, I don't know, but mainly I'm just tired of sweating while I go about my daily online business. I'm trying to stay cool for two, and the pillow just isn't cutting it anymore. Thanks to everyone for their responses!
posted by jessamyn at 6:39 AM on September 24, 2007

When I was pregnant, I had the same concern and started using an Ikea placemat/ board.
posted by mistsandrain at 9:45 AM on September 24, 2007

The best thing I found was the X pad. It's just a piece of ABS plastic, so it's sturdy and durable and cheap. You can find people selling them on Ebay for $20 or so, and I can confirm that even with a heatmonster of a Dell, my lap stays nice and cool.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 9:30 AM on September 25, 2007

I have a lapdesk that I use with my laptop. It's a wood tray about lap size with a denim pillow connected to the bottom about half-filled with beanbag beans. The pillow bottom allows it to easily conform to your lap. In my experience I can't feel the heat from the laptop at all; the only warmth is the obvious reflection of my bodyheat from the desk. I bought mine at a discount store for less than US$10. Mine is similar to this one, but mine doesn't adjust to different angles.
posted by dreaming in stereo at 7:04 AM on September 26, 2007

Be careful using a flat surface like this, because your laptop can overheat with all that heat being reflected back to it.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:26 PM on September 26, 2007

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