For all their cool teeny-tiny productiveness, I've never been able to effectively use a laptop on.. my lap. It's just not possible, except for brief sessions to check email or the like. To do real work, I have to find a desk or desk-like surface. This can be tough unless I'm in a hotel room.
I recently blogged about the three essential travel accessories for my laptop. Well, I am tentatively adding a fourth item to that list: the portable laptop stand. My mom picked this laptop stand thing up at a yard sale for a few bucks. She thought I might like it.* Initially I was quite skeptical-- how can something this ridiculous looking actually work? But it does! I can finally sit on the couch and work with my laptop at nearly full desktop speed, with a real mouse.
I didn't get any documentation with the laptop stand, so I did some research and found out it's a PC Table Tote. Unfortunately, it's a bit expensive at $49.99. But it works unbelievably well, and folds up into a neat little package. I particularly like the way the opposite side mounts on the top to double the surface area, so you have a generous area for both laptop and mouse.
I'm no expert on devices like this, so there might be laptop stand alternatives that work just as well. All I can tell you is, it looks ridiculous, and it's a bit expensive, but this PC Table Tote thing really works.
* Thanks, mom. You rock.