Our Story - The evolution of Laptop Lifts' development

Chris Adams - owner and inventor with laptop lift package in hand

I was a web developer by trade and I have used computers daily for a long time.

After showing up at a few client jobs with a very road weary machine that would barely stay together with keys missing, no battery life and a screen that flopped back and forth I decided that it was time to get a new machine.

I spent the big bucks on the first model of the MacBook Pro and I was super uptight - I needed to protect my laptop from any mishaps.

When I brought my computer in to work I was paranoid about spilling water or coffee on my desk and having it puddle up under the machine. I always have either water, coffee or both and I am very clumsy, so this may be a more likely scenario in my workspace than yours. I raised the computer by putting it up on a book. This had the added benefit of supporting my wrists as I was typing and it protected the furniture underneath from scratches. It also held the computer in one place instead of sliding all over the desk.

Phase 1: Book Only

Steps forward:
  • Computer was raised above spills.
  • It was at a comfortable typing height.
  • Furniture was protected from scratches.
  • There was a stable typing platform.

A few months later, I had a fan malfunction in the machine. When the fan came on it went "wrrrraaaggggghh" so loudly that it bothered other people in the room. I eventually sent it back and got it fixed (under warrantee) but of course, I did not want to do it right away. What good is a geek without a computer?!? In the meantime, I got a program that could change the speed of the fans and monitor the temperature of the processor.

I had found something out in the meantime - the new processors get really hot! They are hot enough to burn your skin. I started to pay attention and noticed that manufacturers refer to their machines as "notebook" computers, not "laptops." No wonder! In the process of solving my noisy fan dilemma I found out that the processor in my machine can be hot enough to boil water and still be operating within specifications (100 degrees C)!

Laptop with thermometer in the side showing about 190 degrees farenheit

Anyway, I needed to keep my temperature much lower to keep my noisy fan from coming on. I decided to change from the book strategy to balancing the computer on two pencils. This created airflow underneath the machine.

Another advantage was that the computer was easier to pick up at the end of the day. Unlike the book, which was really like a raised tabletop, I could fit my fingers underneath the machine to scoop it up instead of trying to lift it by squeezing it. At the time I was very slightly disabled by some medication that made me unsteady. I noticed the ergonomic benefits of being able to get a firm grip on the machine before I lifted it from the table. It also made peripherals easier to use because there was another cm of space to plug and unplug all of my cables and dongles. However, I had taken two steps back. The typing surface was unstable and the computer rolled around.

Phase 2: Two Pencils

Steps forward:
  • Kept the computer out of spills.
  • Protected furniture from scratching.
  • Provided airflow under the computer to cool it.
  • Created space to grab the computer to lift it.
  • Created space to plug in all peripherals and dongles.
Steps back:
  • The typing surface was unstable.
  • The computer rolled around.

Now, I really like the smooth look of the Apple computer and their other products. However, more than once as I was frantically trying to get the computer from my desk to the briefcase it almost flew out of my hands - it is too slick! This goes back to me being clumsy I suppose. Anyone that looks at my stuff would know instantly that I am fashion unconscious and I am very much a function over form kind of guy. I decided that I needed to put some stuff on the machine to provide some sort of grip. I ordered a cover on the internet that looked decent. When it arrived it was hideous. It was also like the contact paper that you would put inside kitchen cabinets. I put it on the computer anyway and sliced some smaller pieces for the bottom. It was ugly but it helped: I had a grippable surface that I could put in my bag. I could also confidently carry the machine with one hand.

Phase 3: Two Pencils and an Ugly Stick-On Cover

Steps forward:
  • The computer was protected from spills.
  • The furniture was protected from scratching.
  • Excess heat was drawn away from the case by the airflow created.
  • The computer could be lifted easily.
  • There was space to plug in all peripherals and dongles.
  • There was a gripping surface for carrying the machine without dropping it.
Steps back:
  • The typing surface was unstable and the computer rolled around.
  • It looked terrible.
  • It had stuff stuck all over it (that took hours and industrial strength Goof Off to remove).

Of course, I also worked in coffee shops and other WiFi locations. A major drawback to my pencil system is that it did not really apply to the tiny tables there. The computer would have rolled off onto the floor! I did not want to haul around a big book, or put it on the table either. Most of these establishments are clean but there was the occasional yucky table, and always the jumbo coffees!

I also used the computer at home with no set "office" space so I would use it in the kitchen or on the dining room table. I also had small kids and cats. I used to squeal like a stuck pig when they got near the computer - "no drinks! no food! don't move it! Get away (usually just to the cats)."

cat with spilled coffee on comptuer

I wanted to be able to have the benefits of the system that I had hacked together in the office without the drawbacks, and add the benefits of portability. From this idea and the final goal of portability Laptop Lifts was born.

It took well over a year to get Laptop Lifts to market and a talented team of artists, manufacturers, and engineers. I bought some broken "crash" computers on eBay so that I could use modeling clay on them to get the dimensions. I learned about injection molding and acrylic adhesives, durometer measurements of silicon and pantone color matching. I am proud to offer this product to you.

The Final Success: Laptop Lifts

Laptop Lifts are made of soft and durable silicon. They feel soft to the touch and provide a lot of grip to the tabletop so that your computer will stay put. You can confidently put your computer on the hood of a car or other spaces and be confident that it will not slide off * . They are soft and gentle and will not mar or scratch furniture or countertops.

They are also very tough to destroy. You can sand them, pull them, twist them, scrape them and crush them and they will look the same as when you started. The one way that you can change their shape is by slicing them with a sharp blade. This has benefits when fitting them to a tight spot.

They adhesive bond is very strong. You will not be able to knock the Lifts off of a computer but when you want to remove them they come off easily using just your fingers. They leave a small amount of residue that can easily removed with rubbing alcohol.

They are bonded to your computer so that they are as portable as it is. There is nothing to remember and nothing else to carry. They are small enough so that they will not interfere with many other cooling pads, stands and systems that you may already own.

They have an attractive shape. Their spherical proportions are based on the golden ratio. They are color complimentary to a wide variety of computer finishes.

They have a practical shape. The rounded edges do not catch on corners or other obstacles. The height is low enough to be unobtrusive but high enough to create airflow and provide enough room for your fingertips to slide under the sides.

Laptop Lifts provide all of the benefits that I had created with my other system and more:

  • Laptop Lifts are portable - they are always with your computer in any environment.
  • The computer is elevated from spills and gross tables.
  • Furniture is protected from scratches.
  • Additional airflow under the machine cools the case.
  • There is a solid grip for carrying the machine with confidence.
  • The computer is raised to a comfortable typing height.
  • Laptop Lifts grip the table so that your computer does not slide and creates a stable typing surface.
  • There is space to grab the computer to lift it.
  • There is space to plug in all peripherals and dongles with your fingers intact.
  • The Lifts provide enough padding to use the computer on your lap for hours without getting completely burned.

We hope that you will take advantage of the safety and advantages that Laptop Lifts offer you, your computer, and your computing environment. They make great gifts and purchases for company owned computers as well. Order some now.

Prototypes in action

Here are some computers with prototypes installed. Laptop Lifts are currently offered in dark grey:

Compaq computer with Laptop Lifts installed
This shows Laptop Lifts properly installed on a Compaq computer with this base configuration. The Lifts are near the sides - this is a very good placement.
Gateway computer with Laptop Lifts installed
A Gateway laptop with Laptop Lifts prototypes installed. This laptop has a multi-level base. This installation uses all 6 pieces in the kit - it is only necessary to use four.
Apple MacBook  Pro with Laptop Lifts installed
This is a 15 inch MacBook Pro with Laptop Lifts prototypes installed. Since this is my main machine I have tested a lot with it. The Lifts on the right hand side are a good distance from the side, the ones on the left are a little bit far. The computer balances perfectly, it is just not necessary to have them so far in. Also on the right hand side the longer lift is placed on top of a shorter one just for the photo - that is why you can see a lump there.

* Laptop Lifts does not warrant against any falls sustained because we cannot account for all circumstances. Use your judgement.
 
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