Finally, in September 2020, a full six months into the pandemic, I abandoned inanity and took the advice of the website I edit. I bought the Rain Design iLevel2, our pick for the best laptop stand. I started using an external keyboard and mouse. My posture immediately changed. So did my life.
Why? Well, as Wirecutter’s experts explain in our guide to the best laptop stands, when you’re using a computer, “the top of the screen should be just above eye level, and your keyboard should be just below elbow level. … This ideal ergonomic arrangement isn’t possible with a laptop alone.” Think about it. Your laptop screen and keyboard are attached and right on top of each other. Unless your anatomy is miraculous (supernatural? broken?), you have too much space between your eyes and elbows to use a laptop comfortably. For ergonomic survival, you need to raise your laptop screen (with a laptop stand) and supplement it with an external keyboard and mouse around elbow level on your desk.
Rain Design iLevel 2
The Rain Design iLevel 2 is made of anodized aluminum, so it’s exceptionally sturdy and stylish. It’s also the easiest to adjust of all the laptop stands we’ve tested.
Now, there are plenty of free and cheap alternatives to a laptop stand. A stack of books will mostly do the trick, though the books won’t helpfully angle your laptop screen, nor will they allow your laptop to “breathe” as much as a stand designed with airflow in mind will. But our pick is substantially better than these DIY alternatives.
The iLevel2 is exceptionally stable. Your laptop will never wobble or slip.
It’s also eminently simple to use. A well-placed adjustment knob raises and lowers the height and angle of your laptop. It couldn’t be easier.
The iLevel2 also looks great. It’s made of anodized aluminum, and it adds a note of sleek sophistication to my otherwise-sloppy desk. (Bonus: That nice-looking aluminum also conducts heat away from my laptop.)
A laptop stand may strike you as an unnecessary indulgence. I used to feel that way too. But as soon as I started using one, I immediately noticed positive changes in my physical, mental, and emotional health. I’m no longer curling my spine and shoulders over my laptop, my elbows digging into my torso like an injured T. rex. Suddenly, my body feels aligned. I hurt less. I’m happier. It’s vastly easier to focus my mind on work when my back isn’t throbbing.
Considering the surprising value this laptop stand has brought to my life, I feel pretty foolish to have spent so many months working without it.