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Summary:

Laptop stands are widely heralded as a great solution for a more ergonomic workstation and better positioning of your computer. They come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from the downright awful to very slick and stylish. I recently took the plunge and purchased the […]

mstand_front.jpg

Laptop stands are widely heralded as a great solution for a more ergonomic workstation and better positioning of your computer. They come in all manner of shapes and sizes, from the downright awful to very slick and stylish.

I recently took the plunge and purchased the Rain Design mStand. This particular stand is designed specifically for aluminum MacBook laptops, matching the anodized metal finish wonderfully. Like the latest Apple notebooks, mStand is made from one solid piece of aluminum.

While not the most cost-effective solution (mStand costs $50), it certainly goes a long way towards offering an ergonomic and stylish accessory for any MacBook or MacBook Pro. This review will take a look at the design, stability, ergonomic design and limitations of the stand.

Design

Right from removing it from the box, the mStand looked comfortably at home in my Apple setup. The aim was to elevate my MacBook Pro to the same level of a Cinema Display and transform it into a more usable second monitor.

mstand_macbookpro_keyboard_perspective_unibody.jpg

The design almost identically mimics the stand present on Apple’s Cinema Display and iMac computers — even down to the inclusion of a circular cable hole at the rear.

According to the documentation, the aluminum finish also assists with cooling your laptop through acting as a heat sink. While a solid metal block might not seem the best candidate for a heat sink, I found that it certainly did not cause any problems. My MacBook Pro remained cool and quiet.

Stability

Obviously if you’re going to entrust a small piece of metal to raise your precious MacBook 6 inches above a desk, stability is a major consideration. The mStand shines in this department due to a remarkably well-designed construction. It supports all MacBook and MacBook Pro models, along with any other laptop up to a 15″ widescreen.

Pressing, knocking and shaking the stand didn’t once instill a sense of fear for my laptop’s safety. If you’re using the stand on your lap (which works well), it’s perfectly capable of supporting even the most vigorous typing activity.

Pads cushion both the underside and front of your laptop where it comes into contact with the stand to ensure there’s no chance of scratching.

Ergonomics

The stand’s accompanying leaflet makes it clear that “all ergonomic guidelines recommend placing the screen at eye level, and keeping your back, forearms and wrists straight.” Coupling the mStand with an external keyboard and mouse is a far better solution than using a laptop directly on your desk:

mStand Ergonomics

mStand Ergonomics

I can’t see myself lugging all this gear to Starbucks for an afternoon, but it can work extremely well in an office environment.

As mentioned below, at times I felt that the stand may be elevating the screen a little too high. It could be that I’ll just need a few weeks to adjust to looking in a slightly different direction.

Limitations

The main limitation with this product is the non-adjustable height. While this is a common problem with many laptop stands, it could really make the mStand a perfect solution. I found that the stand elevated my MacBook Pro a little too high — almost to the top of my Cinema Display. I do, however, appreciate that this is likely the perfect position from an ergonomic perspective.

The only other niggle (and I’m really splitting hairs) is that the cable hole in the rear cannot accommodate the width of an external monitor connection. It’s a slight inconvenience for keeping cables organized, but certainly not a deal-breaker.

Conclusion

So far, I’ve been remarkably impressed with the mStand. It seems perfectly able to match Apple in terms of design, ergonomics and build quality — no easy task.

Is it worth the asking price of $50? The answer depends very much on whether you require a design that’s able to match the aluminum look and feel of an existing Mac setup. If appearance isn’t a major concern, the Logitech Alto Express may be a better (and more budget-friendly) alternative.

Whichever stand you go for, it’s definitely a move I would recommend for a more comfortable workspace.

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  1. I have it… I love it!

    My MBP 15″ unibody beside the new 24″ cinema display… an office made in heaven. It really is the only stand that matches apple in design.

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  2. The Rain Design stand is rather inadequate. There is a much better adjustable metal stand that works for MacBooks and MacBook Pros. It’s made by Power Support of Japan. Here is the product on their Japanese website:

    http://www.pawasapo.co.jp/products/mac/psk.php?category=mac_b

    In the United States, you can also find importers who sell this stand. It doesn’t come cheap at over $100 but it’s much better than the Rain Design stand because:
    1. it is adjustable to all laptop sizes
    2. the stand has adjustable viewing angle
    3. has a shelf in the back to store the power adapter/brick
    4. can stow away the keyboard on the bottom of the stand

    I have this stand.

    In the past, I contacted Rain Design to let them know that someone else is making a much better stand and asked them to improve their design. I never received a response from them. Admittedly, it’s easier to find a Rain Design stand in the U.S. than it is to find a Power Support MacBook/MacBook Pro stand in the U.S. but if you search hard enough on the web you can find it.

    I ordered mine from Macimports ( http://www.macimports.com/ ) several years back. They don’t seem to list this product on their page but ask them and if they don’t carry it any more, they can tell you who carries it in the U.S.

    Definitely if you have a little bit of money to spare for a nice laptop stand, forgo the Rain Design stand and go for the Power Support stand. It’s much better.

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  3. … or you could just modify yourself a shoebox or screw yourself together some wood and save $50. LOL

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  4. Thought this was quite nifty, http://lifehacker.com/5246528/build-a-sturdy-cardboard-laptop-stand

    Of course this one is much prettier on your desk which is not to be sniffed at.

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  5. A few years back, I got the Griffin Elevator for my MacBook Pro. http://www.griffintechnology.com/products/elevator/. Although it’s not as sexy as the mStand, it still does the job. I just got a 24″ Apple Cinema Display, and the Elevator brings my new MacBook Pro to the right height.

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  6. Have it. Love it. This stand is really top notch. The design is perfect for unibody MacBook Pros. The attention to detail is evident everywhere. For example, the rubber non-slip pads on the front lip of the stand are perfectly sized and aligned to line up with the notebook’s thumb scoop. In terms of the height, it is not adjustable, but that is how they are able to maintain the high aesthetic standards. Plus, as someone who is accustomed to working on notebooks on high stands, to me, this one feels a little low if anything when sitting next to my external 24″ display. It’s a beautiful and effective stand and I highly recommend it.

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  7. I own the stand as well, on the whole it’s wonderful, I can’t imagine working with the laptop at desk level anymore. My only complaint is that it raises the I/O connections on the side, specifically the mini display port connector. Since I’m using the DVI to mini display port adapter for my display there’s a lot of weigh hanging down from the stand that I’d prefer was supported in some way… don’t really see much of a way around it besides pacing something under the connector. The stand is great though. I work with Apple’s bluetooth keyboard and rarely use the built in keyboard anymore unless I’m on the go.

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  8. [...] MacBook Accessories: Rain Design mStand [...]

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  9. Interestingly, this was just delivered to my door from Amazon today. It really did add a lot of space to my desk. I agree with Joeypk07 about the I/O connections on the side. I don’t understand how Apple hasn’t figured out how to do a dock connector when they used to do it so well for all their Powerbooks so many years ago.

    And it looks cool, too!

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