If you’re a photographer like me, you constantly see new equipment and innovations reaching the marketplace where you think, “Fantastic idea but way to expensive”.
I became interested in adding a Laptop Stand to my knew PhotoStudio for Tethered Shooting after seeing such devices while walking through Camera Stores and researching different Blogs. Having recently added a wireless Epson Projector to my repertoire for giving Presentations, I thought it would make a great device to hold a laptop as I prefer standing up when giving Presentations.
Two such companies that seemed to be favored were Tether Tools, touted by Scott Kelby and friends, and Tech Tables which I saw on the showroom floors at both Calumet San Francisco and Camera West in Walnut Creek.
While playing around with the one at Calumet, it literally started falling apart. Secondarily, playing with the handle on the device allows the table to drop-down completely forward which means that even with a lip or strap, my expensive Mac Book Pro with Retina Screen is going to hit the ground and shatter into a million pieces. Let’s just say that the equipment inspired zero confidence with this photographer!
The Tether Tools “table” on the website and on the B& H website looks way to flimsy, not to mention the expense factor, $180-$250 for the table alone (no tripod or accouterments).
Between the companies, one might look at the Tech Tables product for the availability of a complete kit for around $390. On Tech Tools website, one must run around and try to figure out how to complete a kit. By the end of my visit there I think I had 7 pages open in Safari, was approaching $600 and still wasn’t sure if the thing was complete enough for tethering.
Enter Office Depot, (yes you read that right) and the Realspace Mobile Laptop Cart (pictured in my Studio above). Obviously Office Depot is not specifically known for any wide array of fine photographic products. It was actually suggested as a source by one of the Calumet staff that I should visit a store only 5 blocks away and see what they had to offer. I was completely surprised that they had EXACTLY what I wanted and MORE. Not to mention it was on sale and I walked out with the complete box for $79 + tax. Well obviously you get an inferior product at that price right? An emphatic WRONG! This baby rocks, and more importantly it is completely stable with my MacBook Pro aboard. I’ll tell you about the one product I added from Tether Tools for about $17 from B&H in a moment.
As you can probably see by my first image, this baby has a nice wheeled support system and it is possible to lock down all the wheels. It is impossible to tip the table forward, in fact it stops at dead level for any forward tilt of the table. You can tip the table towards you and it has a nice sound lip to prevent your laptop from splashing on the floor. I did add the Secure Strap from Tether Tools which I bought at B&H and it fits perfectly with the table and my 15 inch laptop. Also, there is a nice lip mounted on the forward and back side of the table to prevent accidental ejection of your laptop.
There is also a sliding Mouse Platform that conforms for right handers, left handers, and disappears altogether. Saweet…… If I don’t need it, I slide it in. However, I am thinking about getting this product from Tether Tools, the Peel and Place Mouse Pad, to give a little extra grip to the wireless mouse I may or may not use. What I love is that it gives me options. If the thickness of the Mouse Pad does not allow me to slide the Mouse Platform within the table, I’m only out 11 bucks, then I’ll simply have a small mouse pad at the ready.
Here’s the bonus you get with the Office Depot Product. A FAN. Yes, you set your laptop on the device which has a fan driven by one of your USB ports. The other expensive guys didn’t even think of this, nor did I. Well at the complete price listed above, that fan must hum like a Pratt and Whitney jet Engine lifting a Boeing 747 for an International Flight, right? Wrong again. It’s silent, I mean completely silent. So much so that I had to lift up my MBP, plug and unplug the USB to tell if it was spinning. In other words I could only tell visually and not by the sound. So for those of you users still with the 1st-3rd Generation MacBook Pros that can cook an egg on the bottom of your machines, you know what I’m talking about. Plus, I have found that when fans kick on during presentations on these laptops they can be noticeable in smaller, quieter rooms. This could circumvent the need for your laptop to kick it’s fan on at all. If none of this is of interest, you can remove the fan portion of the table and be left with a nice solid surface for your laptop as well.
The last really useful thing I see on this unit that the other guys didn’t address is a depression on one of the legs so that you can mount a surge protector. I mean these guys at Realspace thought of almost everything. I bought my Surge Protector for less than $15 at Best Buy, then attached it on the leg for about $5 worth of Velcro from a Hardware Store.
I want to mention that none of the add-ons I completed my kit with would have been free from any of the other vendors.
Finally, a non-useful item (me thinks), but it is included for free and I can make it disappear, is a Cup Holder. Putting a cup of liquid near a laptop on a small shelf is about equal to having yours truly 😉 shoot off dangerous illegal Chinese Fireworks (Bottle Rockets held in my hand) on the Fourth of July that I bought in a dark, dank cellar of Chinatown, from a shop and guy that looked like the scene from “Gremlins”. (More on that at another time).
However, the really expensive company wants to sell you one for an additional $30, almost a third of the price of my complete kit! Tether Tools Cup Holder .
So to wrap things up, I feel that the Realspace Mobile Laptop Cart makes an excellent choice for your Studio Equipment Arsenal (if not the best) for your Tethering and Presentation needs.
Till next time….