The Portable Rackmount Laptop Tray – and why as a network engineer, you need one

If you’ve ever found yourself next to a datacentre rack cradling a 3-kilo laptop in one arm while typing away with the other, then the portable rackmount laptop tray, a network engineer’s must-have accessory could be just the thing for you.

Network engineer in typical pose when working next to a datacentre rack - cradling a laptop in one arm
Network engineer in a typical pose when working next to a datacentre rack

If you’ve ever been at the top of a ladder in the middle of a factory floor working with a laptop plugged into the console port of a switch, then guess what, the Network Engineer’s must-have accessory could be just what you need.

Improve your productivity

For those times when there’s really nowhere to put your laptop when you’re working in a rack, bring your own laptop tray and get to type with both hands for a change, that should improve your productivity and get you away from those noisy server fans a bit earlier, (probably best not to use it as a table though as in the picture below).

Image showing an early version of a portable rackmount laptop tray.
An earlier version of the portable rackmount laptop tray

Designed for portability

It’s designed to slip easily into a laptop bag or rucksack being about the width of a 15-inch laptop.

Image of portable rackmount laptop tray in packaging next to a 13-inch, and a 15-inch laptop for size comparison.
Portable rackmount laptop tray packed for traveling.

Designed for stability

When deployed, it gives a stable working platform and comfortably supports a 15-inch laptop as well as providing wrist rest. (Please note that as I didn’t have a rack cabinet available at the time, I used the next best thing I had which was 19-inches wide, a Cisco 3750 switch).

Image of a portable rackmount laptop tray deployed with a 15-inch laptop.
Portable rackmount laptop tray deployed with a 15-inch laptop.

The latest incarnation of the portable rackmount laptop tray goes from your laptop bag to fully deployed in about one and a half minutes, and it’s the same to pack up.

Image showing Android stopwatch timer 01:25.94 - the time to deploy a portable rackmount laptop tray.
Fully deployed in about a minute and a half

Designed to make your life easier

If you need to leave it in the rack and go for lunch, or a coffee or something, then you can fold it up in a few seconds and close the door. It protrudes less than some network hardware. Perfect for the times when you’re working in a secure cab and can’t leave it unattended even for a moment.

Image of a portable rackmount laptop tray deployed but folded, so you can close the rack doors but leave the tray in place.
Portable rackmount laptop tray deployed folded.

Built to last

Some of the earlier designs we’re more complex and suffered from an excessive amount of bounce and lateral movement. Simplifying the design has lead to significant cost reductions and improved the useability.

The final build in aluminium and stainless steel should last a lifetime, being fully corrosion-resistant and more than up to the rigours any Network Engineer is likely to throw at it.

Doesn’t need rack space

It’s possible to mount it with zero “U” of rack space, as long as there’s a blanking plate, you can fit it directly in front without removing the plate, or you can use spacers to fit it in front of existing network hardware.

Image of a development version of the portable rckmount laptop tray, deployed for display purposes bolted to a Cisco 3750 switch.
A development version of the portable rackmount laptop tray

All of which means there’ll be no more excuses for this sort of behaviour, just make sure you fit the tray before you take your laptop out of the bag.

Sign up for updates on progress.

We’re covered by Patent Nos GB2490570 and US9295179 but are currently still in development and would like backing so we can take the design to production in a professional manner, but rather than run a kickstart campaign if there’s enough interest we can get funding elsewhere to take it forward.

If you’d like to register an interest, be kept updated on progress and help us get through the next steps as quickly as possible please sign up to the newsletter and share with others you feel might benefit.

I might even screw one under my desk and use it as a keyboard shelf.

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