For the last few years I’ve had a large iMac sitting on my home desk. It’s been my main computer since shortly after I got my first iPhone. Initially I had a 20 inch iMac but eventually I upgraded to a 27 inch dual core iMac with eight gigabytes of RAM. It was an impressive computer to say the least. The screen was big and beautiful and although it wasn’t one of the new quad-core versions of the all-in-one computer it had plenty of speed. The 1 TB hard drive didn’t hurt either. Yes, it did make a bit of noise when the drive spun up and down and give off a fair bit of heat when I was using it to do video or website editing but it was, by far, the best desktop computer I’ve ever owned. Then I got my 13 inch MacBook air. It only offers 256 GB of storage. It only has 4 GB of RAM and it’s not upgradable. And it runs at a not so speedy 2.13 GHz. On so many levels it is a significant downgrade from my iMac and yet I decided to use it as my desktop computer and I couldn’t be happier. I made the choice for a few reasons. First, the 13 inch MacBook air has the resolution of the 15 inch MacBook Pro. It significantly smaller than my iMac but it’s plenty large enough to do the majority of my work without ever feeling cramped. Second, although on paper it should be far slower than my iMac I don’t feel any decrease in speed with which the computer runs. In fact, for many activities it actually feels faster. I know that this may not bear out in real life testing but I don’t care about that. All I care about is how it feels to me when I’m using and on that count is more than fast enough. And finally, there is probably the biggest reason I’m happy using this in place of the iMac–95% of the time it is absolutely silent. The MacBook air doesn’t make a sound unless it’s doing something tremendously taxing and there is something incredibly peaceful about that.
So I am completely happy using the MacBook Air as my desktop except for one thing–it’s not ergonomically the most comfortable thing to use for hours on end. Having a laptop sitting on the desk I was finding that I was feeling more strain than usual in my neck, my back and my wrists. I mentioned this to Judie and she suggested that I get a good laptop stand. Ideally it would be a standard that would raise the screen of the MacBook up to eye level so that I could use a separate keyboard on the desk or the keyboard on the computer depending upon which was most comfortable at any point. She told me she’d seen a beautiful one and suggested I e-mail them to see if they might make a review unit available to me. Rain Design was kind enough to send me one of their mStands within a few days and I’ve been using there, stand ever since. I like it? I love it. It’s sleek, Apple ask and does exactly what I wanted and needed to do.
Let’s take a look.
From Rain Design-
Designed for the Apple MacBook and MacBook Pro, suitable for all laptops, mStand helps you work comfortably and safely every day by raising your laptop to the same ergonomic height as the external display. mStand is made of a single solid piece of aluminum with matching MacBook Pro’s sand-blasted and silver anodized finish. mStand transforms your laptop into a stable and stylish workstation.
The mStand is just about as simple in design as you’re going to find. It’s one piece of aluminum that is perfectly shaped to do what it needs to do. It provides a solid base, just enough height, and a perfect angle on top so that the laptop sits just right.
A raindrop shaped cutout in the middle of the top platform allows cables to pass through and out the back of the stand.
It is the simplest of cable management systems but it works perfectly.
You can use one or more cables and have them nicely hidden. Of course the one that will be there most commonly is the power cord.
On the Air you need to position the cord to be pointing toward the read of the laptop if you don’t want the USB port blocked.
Small, innocuous rubber bumpers are strategically placed at each point where the laptop might come in contact with the metal of the stand. This serves three purposes. First, it keeps the metal of the laptop and stand from coming in contact with each other so that neither get scratched. Second, it places the friction on the base of the laptop so that the laptop doesn’t move around. The laptop isn’t secured to the stand but it might as well be thanks to these bumpers. And finally, it creates a gap between the stand and the laptop so the cables can pass underneath the laptop through the raindrop cut out and out the back. Again, it’s about as simple design is you’re going to find but it is so well thought out and it borders on being a work of art.
The mStand looks great but its main function, and the reason I wanted it, is ergonomics. The stand raises the laptop up to eye-level and alleviates much of the stress you would otherwise few when look down at the computer.
As the company explains-
All ergonomic guidelines recommend placing the screen at eye level, and keeping your back, forearms and wrists straight. This can be achieved by using your laptop with mStand, external keyboard and mouse. mStand helps you work comfortably and safely every day.
Thus far I haven’t been using a separate keyboard with my Air because I’m naturally quite comfortable having my hands raised up a little bit and I do much of my writing by voice. I know that the more ergonomic approach would be to have a separate keyboard and I’ll probably start doing that soon. Regardless, it’s nice to have the flexibility to do one or the other depending upon how you feel like working that day.
The mStand is elegant. There’s no other way to describe it. It takes its design cues directly from Apple, has the same fit and finish as something that you would get from Apple, and it finds the balance between aesthetics and function that Apple seems to have perfected. It is one of the better products I’ve seen from any company in recent memory which is why I’m buying Elana the exact same stand for her new MacBook Air soon as this review was posted.
The mStand is awesome and is available directly from Rain Design.
What I Like: EVERYTHING! (he writes gushing); Looks great; sturdy; subtle cable management; looks like it belongs with any Mac laptop
What Needs Improvement: NOTHING! (he writes gushing some more)