One of great benefits of the iPad is that you can take it with you anywhere you go: to the office, to a coffee shop, or on a cross-country flight. But chances are, you use it just as much at home, lounging, snug and cozy, on the couch or in bed. And you’ve probably found yourself trying to figure out the best way to keep it steady—propping it up on your legs, holding it in your (eventually tired) hands, and so on. If you’ve ever wondered if there was a better way to position your device on your lap, sit back and relax—a number of accessory vendors have come to your aid, offering ways to ensure your iPad and your lap have as wonderful a relationship at home as you and your iPad do on the road. (All products are compatible with both the original iPad and the iPad 2; only the Padprop has different models for each.)
As its name implies, Veyl Products’ $30 ePillow ( ) is essentially a long, polyester cushion with three vinyl-covered “bumpers” sewn into the body to hold the iPad securely, along with a pocket on the right-hand side to provide a place to store smaller accessories like earbuds or a dock-connector cable. The best thing about the cushion is that it’s very comfortable on your lap and soft to the touch, making you almost forget you’re using it. It holds the iPad firmly within its bumpers in landscape orientation. (You can also place the tablet on the ePillow in portrait orientation—I was surprised that my iPad didn’t tilt back in portrait mode, but as long as the bottom edge of the iPad is tucked under the lower bumper, it’s stable.)
Though the ePillow is comfortable, it does make it a challenge to use the iPad’s onscreen keyboard, since the bottom bumper is thick enough that it gets in the way of the lower edge of the tablet. (This is especially an issue if the iPad is in portrait orientation, as when you pull the bottom edge of the tablet out from the bumper for better access to the onscreen keyboard, the iPad tends to tilt backward.) Despite this limitation, the ePillow makes for a very good lap companion, and it’s available in either brown or black.
Looking a bit like a black-foam profile of a Texas longhorn skull, Prop-It Limited’s £15 PadProp ( ) is a compact iPad holder that feels sturdy and keeps the tablet in the middle of your lap. The PadProp’s unique shape allows you to wedge it in the dip between your legs while sitting, keeping your iPad secure while using your device. Typing on the iPad feels great, as the PadProp leaves the screen completely unobstructed and keeps the iPad stable. On the back of the PadProp is a holder for Apple’s earbuds, in case you take the holder with you on the go. The PadProp is available in a variety of colors, such as black, neon green, or pink.
While the PadProp works well, it forces you to keep your legs close together to ensure your iPad and holder don’t fall or sink. The PadProp was also hard to slip on and off, sometimes requiring some muscle to remove it, and doesn’t work with the tablet in portrait mode. The holder works best as a flat surface viewer, allowing you to place the iPad at various angles for viewing by moving the holder up or down.
One thing that can be said about PropUp LLC’s $30 PropUp ( ) is that it’s eye-catching. It looks like a rectangular, foam, turtle shell with the company’s logo on top and grooves underneath. When you turn the PropUp upside-down, the iPad slips right into four corner “claws,” securing the tablet in place even when you flip it over. (Despite this firm grip, removal is quite easy, allowing the accessory to slip right off when you’re done.) The PropUp’s curved back feels comfortable on your lap—it rests nicely in the groove between your legs—and the PropUp doesn’t get in the way while typing on the iPad’s onscreen keyboard.
The company claims the PropUp can also be used as a desktop stand, but while the PropUp works great on a flat surface with the iPad in landscape orientation, when I tried to view the iPad’s screen in portrait mode, the entire contraption tipped back. The PropUp also occasionally turns off the iPad, since the holder’s wraparound corners can accidentally hit the iPad’s Sleep/Wake button.
There are many bean bags on the market, all with a variety of purposes, but the black and white WedgePad ($27; ) is essentially an iPad-sized beanbag designed to hold your tablet on your lap or any other surface. The wedge-shaped WedgePad sports four elastic bands, one on each front corner, that hold your iPad in place. The accessory’s light weight and compact design make it easy to carry around with you, and it can be used in both landscape and portrait orientation while on your lap, though, like some of the other products covered here, requires you to keep your knees together so the WedgePad doesn’t fall between your legs. The bean bag can also be used on a flat surface for 30- and 45-degree viewing (you choose the angle by the direction the WedgePad faces), but only when kept horizontal.
Despite being marketed towards aviators, Tiet’s $40 MyClip Thigh/Kneeboard ( ) can also be used by land-based tablet owners. The black, faux-suede leg strap wraps around your thigh, securing with Velcro; the MyClip holds your iPad in place using rubber clamps that grip the tablet’s sides. The strap can hold the tablet in landscape or portrait orientation, letting you type easily, using the iPad’s onscreen keyboard, in either—just don’t forget to remove the MyClip before you stand up. While the MyClip does hold the iPad—and your leg, if you’re not careful—tightly, the MyClip itself occasionally slips from side to side, forcing you to push it back into place, and while the MyClip’s clamps hold the iPad securely, they’re a bit difficult to remove.
Macworld’s buying advice
Thanks to its ease of use and high coziness factor, the ePillow is one of the best choices you can make for holding your iPad on your lap. [Also check out the Rain Design iRest Lap Stand ( ), previously reviewed.—Ed.] For a bit more flexibility, the Propup would be my next choice, as it works well while lounging or when working on a desk or table. In either case, your lap will be very happy you thought of its comfort for once.
[Maricio Grijalva is a Macworld intern.]
Updated 5/26/2011, 10:55am, to include ePillow price and iPad compatibility.