Corsair’s Lapdog keyboard tray reviewed

Gaming on home theater pcs seems to be an increasingly popular practice, judging by Steam’s Big Picture mode and Valve’s own SteamOS. Sitting on the couch with a controller is great for platformers and racing games, but a desktop PC is still the preferable way to play FPS and strategy games. Though some companies have tried to replicate the speed and precision of the keyboard and mouse for the couch—Valve’s Steam Controller being the most prominent example-none of those solutions have caught on so far. Corsair is trying to help HTPC users get their game on by introducing the Lapdog, a two-in-one keyboard and mouse tray. The Lapdog sells for $120 on Corsair’s website.

Let’s begin by taking a look at this canine’s various components. The Lapdog itself is just an empty chassis made from brushed aluminum and hard plastic. Buyers will need to add a Corsair keyboard plus a mouse from any manufacturer to make it useful. The 29″ by 10″ (74 x 25 cm) tray is quite large, but the size makes sense considering the Lapdog can hold a full-sized keyboard alongside a generous mouse pad.

Installing a keyboard isn’t too much of a hassle. Corsair’s illustrated instructions are clear and concise. Corsair includes a small hex wrench to remove the screws that hold together the various plates. One minor issue was that the aluminum top plate of the Corsair K70 keyboard we used to review this unit scraped up against the aluminum of the Lapdog, which left a few scratches on the unit’s metal components.

A cable compartment hidden underneath the topmost aluminum plate offers just enough room for the thick cables Corsair generally uses on its high-end gaming keyboards. The Lapdog is only designed to work with Corsair’s full-sized K70 and tenkeyless K65 keyboards. Other keyboards can fit into the chassis, but they won’t fit as snuggly or seamlessly as the Corsair keyboards and will likely slide around in use.  To make users’ lives simpler, the Corsair website offers a few bundles that come with both a keyboard and the Lapdog. An included metal plate covers up the space that would be otherwise left open by the K65’s nonexistent numpad.

Unscrewing a few fasteners for the mousepad reveals an extension of the cable compartment and the USB hub for the installed keyboard and mouse.

Once the keyboard and mouse are installed, the Lapdog connects to a computer with a 16 foot USB cable. This lengthy cable gives users a generous amount of leash to play with while maintaining a direct connection to a PC. 

The cable also has a power jack that connects to a 12-volt wall charger. The wall charger powers two external USB ports on the side of the Lapdog. The most obvious use for these ports would be plugging a headset or headphones, but Corsair brags that these ports also have fast-charging support for smartphones and tablets. The Lapdog doesn’t need to be connected to the wall charger if these ports aren’t being used.

The Lapdog’s 10″ x 11″ (25 x 28 cm) mouse pad sits above its USB ports. I found the considerable size of the mouse pad to be plenty for all of the game genres I tried. The pad’s sandstone-esque texture feels nice, and it also provides plenty of traction for the mouse. However, it does make sliding the mouse around somewhat noisier than a smoother surface might. The bottom and right edges of the mouse pad have small plastic lips that stop the mouse from sliding off the pad.

The Lapdog comes with a memory foam cushion that magnetically connects to the bottom of the unit. I found this pad to be quite comfortable, but I wish the magnets were slightly stronger. The cushion would occasionally come loose when I repositioned the Lapdog.

Taking the dog on a walk

All of the Lapdog’s pieces come together to form a sleek-looking piece of gaming equipment, but good looks don’t mean anything if this dog can’t hunt. My time with the Lapdog was mostly spent sitting on a couch playing Star Wars Battlefront and Civilization V. Both games would normally be troublesome to play while sitting in front of a TV, but the Lapdog let me make short work of them. I couldn’t play a shooter with a game controller to save my life, but the Lapdog allowed me to comfortable play Battlefront with keyboard and mouse while on the couch. While Battlefront could arguable be played with a controller, Civilization unquestionably requires a mouse.

My experience with the Lapdog during these gaming sessions was largely positive. As I already mentioned, the cushion made the experience comfortable. However, what really made the experience great was just the fact that I could relax on the couch and still play with a keyboard and mouse. The Lapdog is one of the first kits that offers this convenience, which is what really sells the product.

Even so, there were a few issues I had with the Lapdog. If I had to sum this thing up in one word, I’d call it unwieldy. While the Lapdog is marketed at gamers, a small wireless keyboard with a touchpad is much better for navigating an HTPC. A small, light keyboard like the wireless Microsoft keyboard you see above is easy to just pick up and use. The Lapdog, on the other hand, has to be picked up, carried across the room with all of its wires trailing behind, and then optimally positioned for a long gaming session.

Part of the unwieldiness comes from the extra space required to house a full-sized keyboard. Given my experience in most games, I could definitely go without the numpad of the full-size K70 we used to review the unit. The lack of a wrist rest on the Lapdog also made my gaming experience less comfortable than it could have been. The unit’s sharp metal rear edge dug into my wrists when I let them hang off the board during gaming, as one might on a couch. A strip of some kind of padding in the box would really help here.

While the Lapdog is a major advance in living-room gaming on its own, I’d really like to see a “K65 Lapdog” that simply grafts a mousepad and cushion onto Corsair’s tenkeyless board, obviating the bulky cable tray. With the cable tray removed, the keyboard could be moved up to the front edge of this hypothetical assembly, leaving plenty of space for a wrist rest.

One other thing the Lapdog can’t fix is simply the nature of gaming on an HTPC. Sitting a ways away from a TV screen, even a large one, is similar to sitting a little ways away from a computer monitor. Fine details can be hard to make out when sitting on the couch. That might be fine in some titles, but it’s detrimental in FPS games when one has to accurately shoot enemies from afar. Of course, this isn’t the Lapdog’s fault, but it is something to keep in mind when trying to game in the living room. While it can still be fun to play on the couch with the Lapdog, it still won’t be exactly the same as sitting at a desk.

Conclusions

Corsair’s Lapdog is an interesting concept. It allows PC gamers to relax on the couch without giving up the ability to play all of their favorite games. Many people work long hours sitting in front of a computer and don’t want to have to sit down at a desk to play their favorite games. I enjoyed the Lapdog’s sturdy build quality, generous mousepad, and comfortable lap cushion.

However, the Lapdog has a few issues. Since Corsair built this tray to accommodate both full-size and tenkeyless boards, and off-the-shelf ones at that, it has a lot of fat that could be trimmed. Put a tenkeyless Corsair K65 keyboard in this thing, and you end up with a lot of extra dog in your lap that you just don’t need. The Lapdog’s lack of padding on its rear edge sometimes causes discomfort while gaming, thanks to its sharp metal edge. Corsair could potentially solve these issues with a smaller K65-only Lapdog, or by integrating Lapdog features with one of its tenkeyless boards and ditching the extra space devoted to cable routing.

Minor issues aside, the Lapdog is one of the few options on the market for gamers who really want to bring the PC gaming experience into the living room. Potential Lapdog owners will need to be OK with using a Corsair gaming keyboard (hardly an imposition) and the unit’s $120 price tag, but we think those who take the plunge will be rewarded with a living-room gaming experience that’s mostly similar to sitting at a desk with a mouse and keyboard. PC diehards that we are, we think that’s a pretty exciting value proposition for people with gaming HTPCs—and for those without, the path is clear to build one.

Comments closed
    • wroberte
    • 3 years ago

    That’s not a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard. It’s a Microsoft Wireless All-In-One Media Keyboard.

    • leor
    • 3 years ago

    Wireless living room peripherals dagnabbit!

    • ludi
    • 3 years ago

    So, to sum up:

    * Size this down to a K65, while keeping it detachable (in case the KB is needed elsewhere). May as well include a K65 bundle option for those who don’t already have one.

    * Add a wrist-rest.

    * Include audio passthrough, or even better just add a USB soundcard inside the unit, so that the user’s headphones can direct connect.

    * Give the PC-end of this thing a double USB plug and use the extra current supply for powering some of the onboard stuff, further reducing the need for the power adapter.

    • Y0ssar1an
    • 3 years ago

    No use for us lefties …

      • Voldenuit
      • 3 years ago

      [quote<]No use for us lefties ...[/quote<] Since you have to install the keyboard anyway, I'm surprised corsair didn't make this so you could flip it around and install the kb with the mousepad on the left. Then again, this looks like a rather unpolished, rough product; I'm amazed it's the shipping version and not just a concept demo in this state.

      • Srsly_Bro
      • 3 years ago

      Surprised?

      Sup?

      • Pax-UX
      • 3 years ago

      Have you guys not all died out yet though PC evolution and survival of the fittest

    • drfish
    • 3 years ago

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Logitech M570. If you’re going to make compromises no matter what you do, then I still think this is the best choice for HTPC gaming.

      • Khali
      • 3 years ago

      That’s all I use. Love my Trackball. Give me a semi flat surface to set it on and I’m good to go.

      Not so enamored with Logitech though. They did away with the corded version and refuse to say why, or even discuss it at all other than to politely say shut up and go away. Yet they are the only game in town that is producing a trackball with the ball located under the thumb. Then there are the cheap horrible micro switches they use. You might get a year of heavy use out of them.

        • drfish
        • 3 years ago

        Totally agree about the switches, I should put M570s on Subscribe n’ Save and practice FIFO with them.

        I’ve thought about trying [url=https://smile.amazon.com/Elecom-optical-trackball-button-M-XT1URBK/dp/B00O1HYX9C/<]this one[/url<] before (there's a wirelss option too). Maybe for a future review - but I'd need to make a device to simulate clicking... Hmm...

    • geniekid
    • 3 years ago

    I definitely question the ergonomics of this. I would think something like a breakfast-in-bed type of tray would be better for gaming on the couch.

    EDIT: And you could use it as a breakfast-in-bed tray as well!

    • Voldenuit
    • 3 years ago

    Too few features, too expensive. And no audio pass-through? That means you either need 16-ft extension cables for your headset, go wireless, or forego chat.

    I’d rather see a wireless tenkeyless keyboard with a snap-on or slide-out mousepad for couch gaming.

    • Pettytheft
    • 3 years ago

    I’ve tried all sorts of solutions for an HTPC including lapboards. At the end of the day I ended up with a Xbox Elite controller and haven’t looked back. I still have a desktop for my mouse/keyboard needs but these things just get awkward and I never could quite stabilize it comfortably from the couch.

    • Anovoca
    • 3 years ago

    That lack of wrist support just sounds like a bad case of carpal-tunnel waiting to flair up.

      • derFunkenstein
      • 3 years ago

      Agreed. I have a lapboard with a built-in wrist support and I still use a separate wrist rest along with that.

      • morphine
      • 3 years ago

      Do you have the requisite number of pieces of “flair”?

        • Generic
        • 3 years ago

        I don’t really like talking about my flair.

        • Srsly_Bro
        • 3 years ago

        Lol +1

      • Generic
      • 3 years ago

      /Seinfeld reference withdrawn for Office Space reference

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