Best Lap Desks

Updated June 2021
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Buying guide for best lap desks

Want to turn your couch or bed into a personal office? A lap desk is a great way to get work done from a cozy spot. It also provides a comfortable angle for your wrists and protects your lap from the heat of your computer.

Choosing the right lap desk means considering what type of work you intend to use it for and taking into account how much space you will need, as a cramped surface can be frustrating. Designs range from compact platforms to support a smaller laptop to wider surfaces that can fit a laptop, mouse, and possibly your phone or a notepad. Some lap desks rest directly on your legs, while others rest on either side of you without making contact. And since you will likely use your lap desk for several hours at a time, you should find a model with a comfortable cushion.

If you are ready to pick out a lap desk, consider our top recommendations — or continue reading to learn more about the different styles available.

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A lap desk with a cushioned wrist support can reduce your chances of developing carpal tunnel syndrome.

Key considerations


Most lap desks can accommodate laptops up to 15 or 20 inches in size. However, the amount of space left over on the surface can vary, so your safest bet is to look at the measurements of the surface itself. Bear in mind that most laptops are measured diagonally, so you may have to calculate the diagonal measurement of the surface to figure out how much space will be left over.

If you only want a lap desk as a surface for your laptop and don’t need extra space for a mouse or phone, you may want to consider a smaller lap desk that is closer in size to your laptop.

You may also want to measure your legs to make sure that the lap desk you’ve chosen will fit comfortably, as you don’t want a lap desk that’s too large or too small.

Over-the-lap vs. on-the-lap designs

Traditional lap desks rest directly on your legs and usually have a cushion beneath a flat, hard surface. Models with this design are straightforward, but the surface will move with you, which can be annoying while writing or typing.

Some models resemble breakfast trays, with two legs on either side that prop the surface up above your lap. These work well in bed and won’t move much if you shift your legs, but they require a wider area. If you opt for an over-the-lap model, take note of its width compared to the area where you intend to use it.

If you prefer to work while standing or want the option to do so, some models can be extended while on a table to create a surface high enough to use while standing.


If you are hoping to use your lap desk for long stretches — or your entire workday — you need something that won’t make your legs go numb. On-the-lap desks have a cushion of some sort, but they aren’t always the same comfort level.

Foam wedge cushions are straightforward and inexpensive, but they do a poor job of molding to fit your lap.

Foam bead cushions are sometimes more comfortable than wedge designs as the beads can be shifted to fit the shape of your legs. However, they may be noisy as the beads shift around, and a small hole can ruin the cushion.

Memory foam cushions are usually more expensive, but they will mold to fit your lap and are the preferred choice for many customers.

If you are concerned about reducing wrist strain, consider a lap desk with a wrist support cushion, which can reduce carpal tunnel symptoms.

Surface material

There are two popular options for surface materials: wood and plastic. You may think that they’re both flat and hard and function similarly — which is true — but the surface material is an important consideration that will affect the look, weight, and feel of your lap desk.

Plastic lap desks are less expensive and come in a variety of colors. They are lightweight in design, but they may be flexible and fragile. Plastic is the best option if you intend to carry your lap desk or transport it.

Wood lap desks are sturdier and are preferred by many for their classic look and feel. However, wood is heavier than plastic, and depending on the type of wood, it can significantly bump up the price of the lap desk.

Also consider whether the material you choose is compatible with most computer mice. Some lap desks may have a dedicated area for a mouse with a different coating or material.

Portability and storage

Since lap desks can be somewhat awkward in shape and size, consider the portability and storage of the model you select. Some desks can be folded down to be quite slim and slipped under the couch. Others are bulkier, with large cushions that don’t compress and lead to a thick shape. If space is a concern, you should look into smaller models or desks that fold down. For a desk that is easy to carry around the house or to a nearby café, handles may be a must-have.


Despite the simple concept, there are many lap desks with extra bells and whistles for additional storage or specific types of work.

Reading lights
A reading light can provide additional light, allowing you to work at night without disturbing those around you. Most reading lights use long-lasting LEDs and are battery-powered. Batteries may or may not be included, and in some cases, the reading light can be detached and plugged into your computer via USB.

Cooling fans
If you have a particularly hot laptop or tablet, you may want to consider a lap desk with a built-in cooling fan. Because these fans are usually powered by USB by plugging into your device, they will drain the battery of your device quicker. You should also read customer reviews to get an idea of how noisy the fan is.

Drawers and storage
Many lap desks include storage for items like writing utensils, headphones, and charging cables. Some have small drawers that slide out of the side of the desk, while others have a surface that can open to reveal several storage compartments. More storage typically means a bulkier design, but if you intend to make your lap desk a mini office, it may be well worth it.

Tablet props and angled surfaces
If you intend to use your lap desk for a tablet or to display your phone while you use another device, some lap desks have divots or fold-out supports for touchscreen devices. If your tablet is your primary device, an angled support may be necessary to achieve a comfortable angle. If you just want to keep tabs on your phone while you work, you may be content with a simple divot to keep your phone propped upright.

For a flexible and easy-to-adjust design, consider a lap desk with a surface that can be angled. Some models offer as many as eight angles to suit your preference.

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Did you know?
Since a lap desk can keep all of your work tools close at hand, it can improve your productivity and overall comfort.

Lap desk prices

Inexpensive: Low-priced lap desks can be found for $10 to $30 and usually have plastic surfaces and bead-filled cushions or no cushioning at all. While lap desks in this range may feel cheap, they will get the job done and can be fairly lightweight and portable.

Mid-range: Lap desks for $30 to $70 may have plastic or wood surfaces and bead, foam, or memory foam cushions. Some wood designs may be particle board with a wood veneer. Many models in this range include additional features like storage space and tablet props.

Expensive: For $70 to $120 are well-constructed lap desks that typically have all-wood designs. These models are often highly versatile, and some can be used as lap desks, over-the-lap desks, or standing desks.

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Did you know?
If you have a small living space, a lap desk is a compact and far less expensive option than a traditional desk.

Tips for working long stretches

  • Just as with sitting at an office desk, you should get up and move around about twice an hour to increase circulation and stretch your muscles.

  • If your lap desk has different modes of use, take advantage of them to keep your posture healthy.

  • To reduce eye strain, keep the brightness of the screens of your devices low enough to match your surroundings. You should also focus on something across the room every 20 minutes for about 20 seconds. Blinking frequently can also help.

  • If you work from home, consider setting boundaries for friends and family. Work time should be work time, and interruptions can disrupt your flow and hinder productivity.

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Lap desks aren’t just for using your computer or tablet — they can also be used for drawing, writing, reading, or eating.


Q. How effective are lap desks at absorbing and blocking heat?
It depends on the material. Wooden desks tend to have superior heat absorption and can dissipate the heat so that it doesn’t reach your legs.

Q. Do foldable or standing designs require assembly?
It depends on the model. If you would rather not deal with assembly, look for a model that comes preassembled.

Q. Can you put a drink on a lap desk?
Depending on how much extra space the desk has and whether there is a drink holder, you may be able to put a drink on it. However, if the desk is resting directly on your lap, you will have to move carefully to avoid spills.

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