EDITOR’S NOTE (July 2017): starting in summer 2017 Aldi is selling a SOHL Furniture Portable Lap Desk that looks (and costs) the same as the Easy Home Portable Lap Desk.
We would not be surprised if the SOHL desk is a rebranded Easy Home desk, since SOHL was a furniture line Aldi debuted in the fall of 2016.
Every summer, Aldi begins its back-to-school season in waves. Starting in July, the grocery store chain begins advertising college-related items, many of them oriented around dorm decor or college organization. Later on, in late July and early August, ads will turn toward K-12-related accessories.
Nestled among the college Special Buys is the Easy Home Small Lap Desk, a simple and inexpensive accessory. You may think of this as “the Aldi laptop desk,” but Aldi calls it a lap desk for reasons we’ll get into in a moment. Anyway, the lap desk has been around for a little while now, but the 2016 model represents a significant redesign over previous models. Whether it represents an improvement or not depends on your situation.
First, a bit of history: in 2015, Aldi rolled out a large, wooden-surface lap desk with a built-in handle, a generous surface space, and a thick, comfortable foam pad. Our experience with it was generally positive, except for the fact that the wooden surface seemed to chip too easily.
This model, the 2016 model, is nothing like the 2015 version. It feels less substantial, from the smaller surface area to the lighter materials. This is a mixed blessing. The surface, for example, is made of plastic instead of wood. It seems less prone to chipping, but we wonder if it might also be a little more prone to cracking. More disappointing is the underside, which doesn’t feel as thick and soft as its predecessors.
This new model has no fewer than three different soft raised surfaces on the table. The surfaces on the bottom left and right could have any number of uses, including elevating a laptop or resting one’s hands. The surface on the left is also soft, and appears to be designed to hold a cell phone.
Another difference is the inclusion of a media slot for tablets and e-readers. The previous lap desk had no such slot but did have a handle cut out of the back end of the desk; this desk relegates the handle to a soft strap on the bottom of the lap desk.
These may seem like cosmetic changes, but they also may signal a change in the functionality of the desk. In years past, a lap desk would have been primarily for laptops. Aldi still sees this as being useful for laptops, as one of the images for the desk shows a laptop. At the same time, with the increasing move from laptops to tablets and smartphones, the desk may be evolving to accommodate that. The downside is that larger laptops may not fit this desk as well — the 2015 model held a 15.6″ laptop easily, but this desk may not be as ideal for large laptops.
If you’re looking for a small tablet / smartphone desk, this might be for you. Be sure to take a look at it in-store, though, before you commit to it as a laptop desk.