Best Bed Trays

Updated June 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

57 Models Considered
24 Hours Researched
2 Experts Interviewed
60 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for Best bed trays

A bed tray is a handy accessory for any bedroom. It can serve you nicely on those days you need to do some work but don’t want to get out of bed. It’s also a wonderful table on which to receive breakfast in bed (or serve it to someone else).

If you’re in the market for a bed tray, you undoubtedly want something sturdy and steady that will hold food, drink, office accessories, and any other items you may have at hand. Some bed trays rest directly on your lap, but many stand on legs that allow enough space below the tray for you to move slightly without disturbing the contents.

When shopping, you will discover that some bed trays are expressly made for office work while others are designed for cozy bedroom dining. 

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If your bed tray is to be used often, consider one that complements your décor. Some support a rustic aesthetic, some look more modern, and some offer a splash of color.

Key considerations

Main purpose

Although bed trays can serve a number of purposes, they fall into two main camps: those meant for serving food and drink and those meant to be used in conjunction with a laptop. However, there’s no reason you can’t find a tray that performs multiple functions.

Material

The material with which a bed tray is made influences its durability and weight. One of the most popular bed tray materials is bamboo, which offers longevity due to its strength and comfort due to its lightweight nature.

Bed trays that are made partially or completely of plastic may cost less upfront, but often, these trays wear down more quickly, and some cannot support a lot of weight.

Bed trays made from metal offer more longevity, but they may be heavier as well, making transport of the tray a bit tedious.

Size

The length and width of a bed tray affect what items fit comfortably on top. If you will be placing a laptop on your tray, this is particularly important to note, especially if you will also be using a mouse. You might also want room for a pad of paper, pens, your phone, and a cup of coffee.

The height of the tray is important as well: you’ll likely want enough room to comfortably fit your legs beneath it. Keep in mind that the tray may sink a bit if you use it on a soft bed or mattress, especially under the weight of electronic devices.

Right-handed vs. left-handed

If you will be working with a laptop, keep your dominant hand in mind. Some bed trays are designed specifically for lefties or righties as evidenced by a designated spot for the laptop and mouse. Other trays are symmetrically designed to allow equal accessibility on both sides.

Legs and cushions

Most bed trays come with legs so you can fit your own legs underneath without feeling uncomfortable. However, some bed trays are more like cafeteria trays, without any legs at all. These options are best for serving food and do not cater to those looking to perform digital work.

In lieu of legs, some bed trays featuring cushions on the underside. This offers added comfort on the user’s legs, but the lack of adjustability may hinder productivity and overall comfort. Higher-quality versions of underside cushioning feature padding that conforms to the body for a more secure fit.

Media slots and extras

Some bed trays are designed to be used with various forms of media. Many include a slot at the back designed to hold a smartphone, tablet, or e-reader. This is helpful for those who do a lot of reading and for anyone who wants to keep their devices at arm’s length.

Other trays feature holes or slits designed to increase the airflow under a laptop, so it doesn’t overheat. (However, this may not be necessary for newer, more efficient laptops.) Though rare, some trays even feature a built-in mouse pad.

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Did You Know?
When shopping for a bed tray online, note that there are a few alternate search terms you might try: media trays, bed tables, and laptop stands.
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Features

Folding

Some bed trays have legs that fold for easy storage and transport. If you frequently travel, a folding bed tray may be useful, especially if you work in spaces that don’t have the best office setup.

Drawers

Some bed trays incorporate small drawers, though they don’t tend to be very deep. Still, you may be able to use the drawer to stash notes, pens, utensils, or other small office supplies.

Handles and edges

For those preparing meals on a bed tray, handles are useful, as they can help you keep the tray steady when you move it. Similarly, trays with defined edges, like bumpers, prevent items from falling off the side. This feature is important when it comes to food, drink, and the potential for other items to slide off the tray. However, it can be limiting if used in conjunction with a laptop and other office accessories.

Tilt

Some bed trays allow for the middle portion to lift upward, creating an incline against which you can work or view content. This can be advantageous if you’re viewing a tablet, reading a book, or drawing. Some options even have an adjustable incline, offering more than one tilted position.

Color

You’ll likely have a few color options, regardless of tray material. Some plastic and metal options may be painted. Wood-derived bed trays may be finished in various shades, such as walnut, cherry, or pine.

A spinoff of the bed tray is the bedside shelf. This small, sturdy platform is attached to the side of the bed and can double as a nightstand.

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Accessories

Wireless keyboard and mouse combo: Logitech Performance Keyboard and Mouse
If you’re working on your bed tray, a wireless mouse and keyboard can add efficiency and comfort to your setup. We like this ergonomic set from Logitech, a trusted name in computer accessories.

Portable charger: Anker PowerCore+ Mini Portable Charger
Cords can become a hassle when working on a bed tray. Opt for a portable charger like this compact yet powerful option from Anker to keep all your devices functioning.

Bed tray prices

Inexpensive: For under $20, you can find a simple wooden tray primarily designed for serving meals and drinks in bed.

Mid-range: Most bed trays cost between $20 and $40 and include a number of features, such as adjustable, folding legs and a tilting top.

Expensive: For over $40, you’ll find high-quality bed trays that boast an array of features to make work more convenient.

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Did You Know?
Most bed trays require no assembly, but some may require you to learn how to properly adjust the legs.
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Tips

  • Envision your setup. Create a mock bed tray setup before you make a purchase, allocating space for your laptop, mouse, keyboard, and any other accessories. This will help you determine if a tray would make life easier or more cumbersome.
  • Practice healthy posture. Bed trays offer plenty of comfort, but that ease can be short-lived if you sit at the tray with poor posture. Be sure your back, arms, and wrists are properly supported, especially if you’re doing a lot of typing.
  • Don’t settle. Bed trays are widely manufactured and feature a variety of designs, perks, and extras. Take time to find the one that suits your needs and includes everything you want.
  • Customize. You can accessorize your tray to make it more convenient or lively. Clips or elastic bands can help keep items in place and at hand. You also have the ability to affix a mouse pad as needed.
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Bed trays are relatively easy to clean and maintain. In most cases, you can use a damp, warm cloth and some soap to wipe surfaces and dry immediately.

FAQ

Q. How stable are bed trays?

A. Bed trays are stable under ideal circumstances where movement is limited, but if you’re sitting on a couch or bed, the surface may change as you adjust your position slightly. This is particularly true if you have a soft mattress. When used on a flat surface, like a floor or table, the tray should be stable. In some cases, depending on how wide the tray is, you may be able to extend it over the armrests of a chair.

Q. Can I use a bed tray in the bathtub?

A. Bed trays and bathtub trays share some similarities, though the latter, typically made of bamboo, is designed to withstand some misting while also keeping items securely in place. What’s more, bathtub trays aren’t typically as wide as bed trays, as they are often designed for use with a book, smartphone, or tablet instead of dinner plates or a laptop. If you have a bamboo bed tray with folding legs, it could possibly be used to span a bathtub. However, if it doesn’t have any holders or edges, your items may slip off.

Q. What are some other creative uses for a bed tray?

A. Bed trays can be extremely versatile, provided they possess the right features.

  • A bed tray can be placed on a table to raise the height of your computer when sitting or to create a makeshift standing desk.
  • It could be used to carry food to an outdoor space, like a patio, or set up as a work or snack station at the park.
  • You could use a bed tray as a controlled surface for certain card or dice games.
  • If you have a tall dog, you might be able to use the tray to elevate your pet’s eating surface.
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