MacBook Accessories: Rain Design mStand

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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.

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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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