Review: mStand by Rain Design

mStand by Rain Design

My new MacBook is my first laptop in years, having spent the last decade or so of my computing life tethered to desktop machines. And while I appreciate the newfound mobility the Macbook offers, a good 80% of my laptop computing is still done at my desk.

Using the MacBook’s built-in keyboard and trackpad for 9-10 hours a day just isn’t an option for me (or my wrists). Ergonomically, I am just having a hard time adjusting to a full day’s work on a laptop. Perhaps after a year or so with the MacBook my tendons will learn to adjust to prolonged periods of laptop input, but for now, I much prefer to use a full-sized keyboard and mouse.

mStand by Rain Design

Rain Design’s mStand offers one of the simplest and most elegantly Mac-like solutions to the ergonomic challenges faced by “desktop-laptop users” like myself. Designed to mimic the brushed aluminum stand that supports Apple’s latest Cinema Displays and iMacs, the mStand is molded from one solid piece of metal, providing an attractive pedestal which raises your laptop off the tabletop about 6 inches (roughly the height of the Cinema Displays).

6-inches may not seem like a big deal, but this small lift does two things. First, it relieves neck strain by putting your laptop’s screen at a more comfortable height. Second, it allows you to plug in a full-size keyboard and mouse without taking up any more desktop space than an iMac. And, if space is really an issue, you can also stow your keyboard under the mStand when not in use.

Solid

Don’t be fooled by the mStands’ aluminum construction. This is not the Duff Beeramid we’re talking about here, this thing is heavy. Of course, heavy is what you want in this case, and the extra weight combined with the wide support base means you laptop isn’t going to fall over due to an accidental jolt while reaching for the Doritos. But it also means you won’t be carrying it back and forth from the office.

mStand by Rain Design

The mStand not only looks cool, it helps keep your laptop cool. By raising your laptop up, the mStand allows for more air to circulate under the machine, thus lowering the temperature a bit. In a test I conducting while ripping a DVD in Handbrake, the MacBook’s temperature dropped 10 degrees, and a whopping 20 degrees while at rest.

The mStand sports rubber pads in each of its four corners to support your laptop, as well as a set of pads near the front of the stand to hold the laptop in place. Its one-size-fits-all construction means the mStand can securely support anything from your 12-inch PowerBook to your 17-inch MacBook Pro.

mStand by Rain Design

The only other feature the mStand boasts is a chord-management hole, located in the rear of the supporting arm. Assuming you have an extra power cable to leave at the office, I suggest routing the cord through here, along with your keyboard. It just makes the whole package look neater, and comes very close to looking like a standard Apple Cinema Display instead of a mish mosh of peripherals and CPUs.

Issues

I don’t really have any complaints about the mStand, but I suppose some users may wish the stand swiveled, as some other laptop stands do. I did not personally find this to be an issue, as the whole stand can turn, base and all, fairly effortlessly given its weight. Also, I have found swiveling stands to feel less sturdy. Still, if you plan to do a lot of sit-downs with clients where you anticipate spinning your laptop around and saying “take a look at this” a lot, you may want to look elsewhere. The mStand is really designed to make your laptop perform like a desktop machine.

mStand by Rain Design
Above: The mStand in an extremely cluttered work environment. Notice how my MacBook now sits up with the big boys.


Conclusion

Thanks to the latest dual-core processors, Apple’s laptops have approached near desktop-class performance, meaning more and more of us are using our laptops as desktop substitutes. The mStand allows you to get your laptop off your lap and up to a more ergonomic and usable height, as well as making it easier to use more comfortable full-sized keyboards and mice.

If, like me, you find you often use your laptop on your desktop, the mStand is well worth the $45 price tag.

mStand by Rain Design

Price: $44.91 (regularly $49.90)

Pros: Simple, effective, and very Mac-like design elevates your laptop and makes it more ergonomical for desktop use, provides cooling benefits as well

Cons: Non significant

Comments
8 Responses to “Review: mStand by Rain Design”
  1. mangochutney says:

    I’ve been thinking about buying something like this for quite some time.
    But the only laptop stand that would let me put the keyboard below it was the Griffin iCurve, and that simply doesn’t look very sturdy.
    the mStand just joined a bunch of other accesories on my list “what to buy alongside an Apple laptop after the MacWorld in Jan. 2008”.

    Thanks for the heads-up!

  2. Riluske says:

    What about fans? The macbook is infamous for overheating (Mine constantly does) and if I’m going to spend that much for a stand, I would hope it provided some amount of airflow.

  3. MC says:

    I’m not sold o this part:

    “means you laptop is going to fall over due to an accidental jolt ”

    or maybe that’s a copy boo boo 😉

  4. Whoops!
    Thanks for doing our QC for us, MC.
    Fixed.

    -The Doc

  5. kriggely says:

    I considered the mStand, but bought the Griffin iCurve 2. I’ve had it a month and I am very happy with it. It is plenty sturdy/secure, but it does bounce slightly when using the laptop keyboard/track pad. But, I use an external keyboard and mouse. The deciding factor for me was the better airflow as compared to the mStand – my MBP runs significantly cooler on the stand. I was also concerned the lip on the mStand might block the CD loading slot and IR port.

    Having the screen raised six inches really helps. I didn’t realize how much I was “looking down” at it before using the stand. And it is nice to store the keyboard under it out of the way when necessary.

    The Griffin unit is made primarily of aluminum also and it looks great with my MBP. It cost me approximately $50 with shipping.

  6. Baris says:

    I don’t know about this. I have a 17″ MBP and the screen is not stable enough for this. If my laptop is at an angle the lid starts moving down. Might just be my laptop.

  7. Rodney says:

    I’ve been using a laptop for years and my tendons are very accustom. However my neck often hurts from constantly looking down at it. Actually it’s hurting now.

    I have something like this already the iCurve. I purchased years ago for my PowerBook G4. However I don’t use it a lot because I am so mobile. I rarely use my MacBook at my desk.

    Most often I find myself using it on the couch or local internet cafe. None the less I think I’ll consider digging my iCurve out of the closet and giving it some use.

  8. Tobi says:

    Nice review of the mStand. I think I will buy one also.

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