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Pretty but pricey: Hands-on with the AViiQ Portable Laptop Stand

Question: What's a quarter-inch thick when folded, weighs a scant 5.5 ounces, yet can support a 17" MacBook Pro?

Answer: The AViiQ Portable Laptop Stand.

When I first heard about this lightweight laptop stand, my first thought was that it was going to be flimsy and incapable of holding up an iPhone. Was I wrong! The AViiQ stand won a Design and Engineering Showcase Honors Award at CES 2010, and as with new lightweight aircraft, it's all about the materials.

The stand is made of a material called Hylite, which consists of thin aluminum sheets that are bonded to a polypropylene core. To allow the AViiQ stand to flex and fold in origami fashion, morphing into a laptop stand, thin lines are machined out of the aluminum, leaving just the flexible polypropylene. There are several tabs that are on the stand and used to lock the "standing" part in the upright position. The tabs have small feet that are molded from a thermoplastic elastomer so that your laptop and the stand stay in one place -- they won't slide, even on the most slick surfaces.

AViiQ seems to be taking their cue from Twelve South, a popular design house with many innovative Mac and iPad products to their credit. Both companies do a great job of packaging their product. The box for the stand is much larger than it needs to be. You slide off the outer cover to reveal a long box that "cracks open" on one edge to reveal the stand inside. A small compartment holds a microfiber carrying bag and two spare feet for the stand.

A small card shows how to unfold the stand from its stored state and then fold it into a laptop-ready stand. It takes only a few seconds to have it ready to plop your laptop on. As I mentioned earlier, it feels quite sturdy, and the laptop doesn't move while you're typing or using the trackpad. The laptop is also at a much more ergonomic 12-degree angle, which feels quite comfortable for typing. AViiQ also shows that the stand can be used "backwards" so that the laptop screen is easier to view when standing over it.

There's only one negative that I can see for this product, and that is the price. At US$79.95, the AViiQ stand is pretty expensive and out of the range of a lot of potential buyers. Sure, it's a design achievement made of innovative materials, but they could probably drop the price $20 and reduce a lot of waste by getting rid of the fancy packaging. On the plus side, it's rare to find a laptop stand with a 3-year warranty.

If you need a more ergonomic way to type on a laptop, but you don't want to carry around a heavy or bulky stand or wedge, the AViiQ Portable Laptop Stand might just fit the bill. With the aluminum surface, it's also a beautiful match for Apple's MacBook line.

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