Having disliked company offers and ‘Solutions’ to Keyboard and mouse from the couch, I decided to whip up a solution myself, and its best solution I’ve gotten so far.
Below is the lapboard solution I cobbled together and as decidedly underwhelming as it looks, it feels very comfortable and has so far enabled most of the functionality I would get from I sitting at a desk:
I’m done with gaming stiffly at a desk and inches away from the screen, I find the couch too comfortable. However, I still want to play FPSs with keyboard and mouse and some CRPGs and strategy games.
The Steam controller was basically a failure in this regard as it was a sub-par keyboard and sub-par gamepad which took ‘getting used to’. This is very likely why it failed, as people had to compromise and ‘get used’ to a controller that was inferior to what it was trying to replace.
Before putting this together I was trying to Keyboard and Mouse with a regular Keyboard and a large bit of wood that fit both. Position wise, this was similar to playing at a desk as your hands are a similar distance apart. But this was very restrictive, as the board was far wider than my lap and was relatively heavy. Getting up or having anything close by was awkward and I just didn’t bother after a while.
Though I had this on the table for normal browsing.
So to resolve the issue I decided to take the ‘TV dinner’ approach or ‘Dinner Plate’. Something that sits on your lap that isn’t cumbersome while you stare and engage with the screen.
I also noticed that your brain doesn’t care where your hands are in relation to each other. So even though they are much closer then you would have on a desk, they can still operate independently of each other. Think of how close your hands are when using the thumbsticks on a gamepad for example.
In fact I think this is as close to using a keyboard and mouse like a game pad as I’m going to get without all the compromises of the steam controller.
The Keypad was what drove the solution here. The Keypad I use in the first picture is a logitec G13. It is probably less than a third the width of a standard keyboard. It’s specifically designed to be a WASD setup, with keys for movement, interactions and most FPS maneuvers. I also used to use this for World of Warcraft and it was sufficient, though I found taking advantage of additonal mouse buttons for other functions helped as some games just needed a lot of separate keys.
Sadly, the G13 is no longer produced (though you can still buy them). But current keypads are made by Razer (Orbweaver and Tartarus) and there are lots of lesser brand versions that are much cheaper, which I willing to bet work just as fine.
As for the board, I cut this from a 5mm thick sheet of Chipboard I bought from B&Q. the basic dimensions were based on a cardboard square I cut to first get and Idea. I used this as a template to see how the keypad and mouse fit. The final demensions were 40.5cm by 30.5cm.
I then bought the Chipboard, sawed the required dimensions, cut the edges and sanded them round, and voila, a light lapboard that allows as much movement as I need without the cumbersome width and weight. I tested this out on Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus and it’s been going great so far.
By far the most expensive part is the keypad, but again, you can get off-brand alternatives that I’m pretty sure will work fine. The materials for the board itself (including the saw I had to buy) was around 20 Euro. I’m thinking this was a better solution than the Lapboards for sale on Amazon that can reach up to 100 euro (not including shipping).
For comparison here is the setup in relation to the recliner :
I know this was a lot to write about a bit of wood, but it’s a very deliberate bit of wood that I’m very pleased about. The natural progress I think is to go wireless next!