Mobile Computer Laptop Table (and Exercise Desk)

UPDATE: Back to the drawing board. After using it for a few days I placed my laptop on the desk and it promptly flipped! So…I’ll see if anyone wants the desk and start over again. 😛

I recently decided I wanted to ride my stationary recumbent bike to get in shape, but as always hate exercising. Its not the physical activity that bothers me but rather the inability to accomplish other tasks at the same time. So, I built myself a “prototype” desk out of boxes, pillows (yes, pillows), and an old bunk bed ladder. It worked marvelously. I was riding my bike most days for two hours a day and accomplishing a lot to boot.

Now it was time to build something more permanent. I went to Lowes and shopped around but didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I began surfing Amazon for a pre-built product. Finally I stumbled upon Office Furniture in a Flash’s Angle and Height Adjustable Mobile Laptop Computer, which was being sold through CSN Stores. The price was right ($32 + S&H) for what was originally a “$199” piece of furniture. I bit – $40 and a few days later the desk arrived…

Unfortunately, I’m not as impressed with it after assembly as I was when I saw it on Amazon’s site. Here are the main issues I encountered:

Two of the knobs broke during assembly. These knobs are used to regular the height and width of the table. In attempting to tighten them the heads came off two of them. Underneath was a normal screw, unfortunately the slots for a screw driver had been filled in – so I had to pry them out slowly and painstakingly.

The larger wood panel (for the table) isn’t entirely stable. The knob doesn’t seem to be enough and placing one’s weight on the table causes the table to rotate down – a very bad thing with a laptop sitting on it. I think they probably needed to have two or three holes for knobs on this larger arm…

The soldering job doesn’t look like a $200 dollar job. There are gobs of solder around various joints and gaps where there isn’t any solder at all.

  • The wrist wrests are not large enough…and because you can’t really put weight on the table, fairly useless.

After assembling, I found the two pieces of wood seemed to be crooked. I attempted adjusting the screws to make sure everything was straight, but they still were crooked. Ohh well, I moved them further apart and it isn’t noticeable.

In addition to these design and manufacturing flaws I ran into additional issues due to my unique use case – which I don’t place upon the manufacturer, rather they are inherent to my usage. Particularly, it took me a long way to figure out how to get the table to stand over the recumbent at a reasonable distance without constantly banging my feet into one of the support posts.

Additionally, I find that the unit shakes a lot when I am riding. This is probably because the support posts are close to the recumbent and the floor is bouncing which in turn causes the table to bounce. It isn’t unworkable,  but certainly a tad annoying. This isn’t a problem if the legs (as in my prototype table) are further away from the recumbent – as it seems the bouncing decreases and its impact is reduced over distance.

Overall, I’m unhappy with the quality of manufacturing – but the price was decent. I think I’ll probably end up building or finding something different in the long run. I thought about returning it but it was $9 in shipping and I would have to pay for the returning shipping as well. By the time everything was said and done I’d only be getting $20 back and CSN Stores policies say they don’t accept returns of assembled products.

For those who would like to build a similar desk for themselves, here are a few photos of the end working product and a few tips I found to be useful….

Note that I removed the wheels off the stabilization bar, this lowered the height of the bars – otherwise they kept banging with the pedals.

It took quite a while to figure out how to get the table constructed in such a way as to allow the bar to be far enough from my feet while also ensuring the desk was over the bike rather than to the left/right of it and so that the desk was not too near/far. This is what I ended up going with.

If I was buying a new desk and didn’t already have a recumbent bike, I’d certainly consider FitDesk. The price total is around the same as I paid for my recumbent and desk combined. I haven’t had a chance to use one, so I can’t comment for certainty…

2 Responses

  1. wim says:

    Forget about the notebook en use a iPad on your hometrainer!

  2. Mike says:

    great post, I’ve been thinking about building one of these for myself.

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