The beauty of laptop computers is their portability. You can use your laptop where ever you are – in front of the TV, sitting in an airport, lying on your bed, even outdoors. But the problem with this portability is finding a place to set your computer. If you put it on your lap, the heat from the computer can be very uncomfortable. If you put it on a cushion or on the bed, the vents can be blocked and the laptop may overheat. There are a variety of lap desks available, and most are basically a padded board that sits on your lap. The new Pug mini-table from LapDawg addresses both of these problems. The Pug mini-table gives you an adjustable table to keep the laptop off your lap and a USB-powered fan to help keep your laptop cool.
NOTE: In my review, I said there was no way to lock the leg extensions into place and the mini-table form was unsteady and the legs started to collapse. Tanneth from LapDawg mentioned that there is a way to lock the extensions into place – just push back on them until they snapped. I looked at the legs, and the extensions do have a groove at the top that snap onto tabs at the bottom of the other leg portion. I had to push back fairly hard to get these to snap into place – hard enough that I would have been afraid I was going to break it if I hadn’t been told that’s how it works. Sure enough, the legs snapped into position, and they are nice and solid. The table still moves when I type on my computer, but the bottom leg section did NOT begin to collapse. I apologize for my mistake. Please remember that the table is solid and the legs do not collapse when reading the review.
The LapDawg Pug mini-table is made of black plastic. It is portable and weighs 4.5 lb. It’s 24.5 inches long, 13 inches deep, and it has three height levels: 2” (flat), 12.75”, or 19” with legs fully extended. There is an adjustable platform in the center that is about 11.75” deep and about 13.5” at the widest point; there are two tabs to hold the laptop in place about 1.5” up from the bottom of the platform. The adjustable platform has four viewing angles: flat, 25°, 35° and 45°.
There is a 3” diameter fan in the middle of the adjustable platform. The fan is USB powered (by your laptop), and comes with a USB cable. LapDawg says the fan is “whisper-quiet”, and I found this to be true. It was virtually silent – much quieter than my laptop’s own fan.
There are two felted areas on the Pug that are left and right mouse pads. LapDawg says the mouse pads work with optical or laser mice. It did work well with my Logitech laser mouse. There is a cup holder behind the left mouse pad area. I wish they had put a cup holder behind both mouse pad areas. I’m right-handed, and I drink right-handed. I’m clumsy enough using my “good” hand, and I fear for my laptop when I pick up a drink left-handed.
The LapDawg Pug has three height positions. It can be used flat as a table-topper. The legs are folded away and only the adjustable platform is used to adjust the angle and position of the laptop in the table-topper mode. The Pug adds 2” inches of height, and this may prove uncomfortable if your table can’t be adjusted to compensate for this additional height.
You unfold the legs from their storage position on the bottom of the Pug for the mid-level height. In this position, the Pug looks like those bed trays I saw in movies when I was a kid. The LapDawg Pug spans your legs so you can lie on the bed or stretch out on the floor and use your laptop. Use the adjustable platform to find your most comfortable viewing position. The Pug is fairly sturdy and stable in the mid-height form. There is nothing to lock the legs open, so there is nothing to prevent the table from folding, however.
There’s another joint in the legs that lets you fold down a section to turn your “bed tray” into a “mini-table”. I’m not sure what the purpose of this height is. It’s too tall to use while sitting on the floor or bed, but it might be useful if you are sitting on a very low stool. I would never use the Pug with the legs fully extended. It’s very wobbly, and just typing on the laptop caused the Pug to rock from side to side. Again, there is nothing to lock the legs into position at either pivot point, and the side-to-side motion caused the lower part of the legs to start to collapse.
I tested the LapDawg Pug with my daughter’s 14” Dell laptop and my 17” Dell laptop. The 14” laptop was stable enough when sitting on the adjustable tray. The little tabs at the bottom of the platform lifted up and worked to keep the laptop from sliding off when the platform was angled. Except for the mini-table position, the Pug was a sturdy-enough surface for using the smaller laptop.
The LapDawg Pug didn’t work with my 17” Dell. The adjustable platform wasn’t wide enough to support the wider laptop. When the platform was in the flat position, the 17” laptop fit on the Pug’s top, but you could only use the mouse pad if you slid the laptop completely over to the other side. In my case, I could only use the right mouse pad when I moved my laptop completely to the left and covered up the drink holder. When I tried adjusting the angle of the platform, I found the laptop felt wobbly. It felt like it was tipping left and right over the edges of the platform as I typed. The biggest problem was caused by the tabs that flip up to prevent the laptop from sliding off the angled platform. With those tabs flipped up into position, my 17” Dell was pushed off the upper edge of the platform. The weight of the Dell caused it to start to topple off the back of the angled platform the second I removed my hands from the keyboard. Luckily, I was able to catch my 17” laptop before it fell. There will not be any pictures of the bigger computer sitting on the Pug.
As for cooling, I had to find a way to measure my computer temperature before I could check the cooling claims. I used the 14” Dell for these tests. I didn’t see a utility to check the core temperatures on the Dell, so I downloaded the 64-bit version of CoreTemp.exe (version 0.99.6.1) by Arthur Liberman to measure the temperatures of the two cores. I measured temperatures of each core under a normal workload – surfing the internet, checking email, and the like. My programmer husband wrote an executable that pegged the two cores so I could measure temperatures under a heavy workload. I measured the temperatures for about 30 minutes under each “average workload” – with and without fan. I measured the temperatures for about 15 minutes under each “heavy workload” – with and without fan. The temperatures shown are the maximum temperatures reached for each core under each condition.
There did seem to be some cooling using the fan. With the limited data set, I can’t say if the difference was mathematically significant, but it was at least a couple of degrees for each condition.
The LapDawg Pug does seem to be a nice “bed tray” table for smaller laptop computers. There does seem to be some cooling from the fan, and it is very quiet. If you have a USB port to spare, you would probably reap some cooling benefits using the fan. I don’t recommend using the Pug with the legs fully extended, and I can’t recommend the Pug for larger laptops, at least not ones like my 17” Dell that seem to have most of the weight back at the hinge.
NOTE: Once I learned how to lock the leg extensions into place, I found that the Pug is stable in the mini-table form with the legs fully extended. You should be able to safely use it with the legs fully extended without fear that it will collapse at the bottom leg joint.