The cynics of the workaday world—me included—sometimes deride the term ergonomic because it’s such a nebulous concept. The basics of ergonomics aren’t in dispute; we can all agree that reducing fatigue or discomfort while you are working is a noble goal. But too many products that promise an ergonomic design don’t have a compelling rationale behind them.
Such is the case with many laptop stands. Some of them are downright funny-looking, with designs that appear to be based more on space-age desires than ergonomic principles. The most basic are essentially keyboard raisers that offer few adjustment options beyond the (questionably-ergonomic) capability to tilt your laptop toward yourself. (At least these generally provide venting to help your hot-running laptop stay cool.) Other types simply let you elevate your laptop, so that its screen can be at eye level, or somewhere close, while you use an external keyboard. Some provide more-sophisticated adjustment options.
But few laptop stands offer as many options, and do so as attractively, as Ergotron’s $79 Neo-Flex Notebook/Projector Lift Stand . Looking like a squat, black-and-aluminum podium with two penguin-like feet, the Neo-Flex Stand can cover a lot of ground on your desk if you’re the type who likes to push, pull, raise, and swivel your laptop. Alternatively, it can easily be locked into a stationary spot. Using the Neo-Flex, you can lift your laptop up to six inches off your desk and tilt it from 25 degrees forward to 15 degrees back—much more flexibility than most laptop stands offer. By giving you options to conform to your personal working preferences, the Neo-Flex is truly ergonomically-sound.
When you unpack the Neo-Flex, you may be intimidated by the printed directions: They’re slightly confusing, in part because you have a few options to decide on before you even start using the stand. For example, you can use it with just your laptop, with a laptop docking station, or with an LCD projector. Once you decide how you want to configure the stand, doing so is a fairly simple process. It took me ten minutes to decode the directions, but only three minutes to assemble the device, attach the included non-slip pads (which also elevate the laptop slightly, adding to the vented platform’s cooling function), and tighten up the stand to my liking.
The Neo-Flex’s adjustability is impressive. As I mentioned, you can not only move your laptop up and down, but also tilt it forward and backward. And thanks to small wheels underneath the stand’s protruding feet, you can swivel the stand (and, thus your laptop) from side to side—or even rotate it 360 degrees. (The leg of the stand stays put and provides the pivot point for this action.) Of course, any cords attached to your laptop might prevent you from attempting the full lazy-susan effect, but to help get a handle on your cables, a Velcro cable tie is included.
All this flexibility doesn’t come at too high a price: At $79, the Neo-Flex Stand is priced comparably to several other notebook stands we’ve tested. And some of those are one-piece models that aren’t adjustable in any way. For an ergonomic solution, the sturdy and attractive Neo-Flex Notebook/Projector Lift Stand is worth a look.