It’s more comfortable to look at a 20″ desktop monitor than it is to look at a 13″ laptop screen – this is not only due to the difference size, but also the difference in height. It is this inequality of height that TwelveSouth’s HiRise attempts to address.
The bottom of the stand looks a lot like the base of an iMac or Thunderbolt Display, so it won’t look out of place on your desk if you already have one. The core of the stand is a spring-loaded shaft that you can lock into place, allowing you to raise your MacBook up to half-a-foot off of your desk.
The top of the stand looks like a metal boomerang, and its sole purpose is to hold a MacBook – a 13″ MacBook Pro in my case – completely steady, with a slight forward tilt. The rubber treads on the top of the stand work wonderfully for this purpose, and I haven’t had any close calls in my last week with the HiRise.
The slight forward tilt not only makes my MacBook Pro look a little cooler, but it also allows to place my iPad mini on top of my MacBook, allowing me to keep it just below my main screen for quick referencing. I’ve already worked on a few Word documents in this manner, so I think the tilt is really handy.
Raising a MacBook half a foot into the air has several bullet-point advantages, the first of which is air flow. Because my MacBook Pro isn’t sitting right against a desk, there’s suddenly more air circulating around the body, which does help reduce overall heat levels (and higher fan speeds that come with that heat). My fans still spin up when YouTube goes or I’m exporting a movie, but my MBP definitely does cool down a little faster than it used to.
The second advantage is a more comfortable viewing angle, and improved compatibility with any other screens you may keep on your desk. I briefly hooked up my MacBook to my ViewSonic monitor and adjusted the HiRise until the bottoms of the screens were level. The result was a smoother, less disparate multi-monitor experience. It’s easier to toggle between different computer screens when they’re both at eye level, and the HiRise makes it very easy to accomplish this.
Having a giant monitor for my Mac was great, but I really didn’t like the look of all of the extra wire coming out of my MiniDisplay port. The long, black DVI cable stretching from my MacBook to the ViewSonic monitor was visual clutter, and I thought it clashed with the simplicity of my HiRise setup (especially since I’m using a wireless keyboard and mouse).
I used this review as a chance to clear my desk of most everything but the MacBook pro, and I’m using the HiRise to elevate my MacBook to monitor height, leaving it as my sole PC screen. I believe this would be a lot more comfortable with at least a 15″ screen size – and it would be gorgeous if I had a Retina Mac on-hand – but I’m happy with the results for now. My MBP screen is at eye level, and I can easily shift the whole machine forward or back, as needed. I move it forward when I’m working with documents at tiny font sizes, and I slide the whole HiRise backwards when I want to watch something.
The major thing I’m adjusting to is the lack of a trackpad. The MacBook isn’t meant to be directly manipulated on top of the HiRise (it’s steady, but not rock steady), and I find myself missing all of the little gestures I’m used to invoking on a trackpad. If it turns out that I really love this setup, I could purchase second-hand Magic Trackpad later on down the line.
I also really like how there’s enough room on the base of the HiRise to store my mouse and keyboard when they’re not in use. This allows me to clear just a little bit more of my desk space without adding clutter, and it was an unexpected bonus from using this stand.
The HiRise is a beautifully made premium product and I think it should last for a very, very long time, but it’s not for everyone. I’d recommend it most for people with multi-monitor setups, or users with 15″ laptops, or MacBooks with Retina displays. TwelveSouth’s HiRise is pricier than other laptop stands on the market (like the $40 Griffin Elevator or the $50 Belkin Zero), but the adjustable height goes a long way toward accommodating users and monitors at different heights, and is well worth the extra investment. You can pick up your HiRise straight from TwelveSouth for $70.
Incidentally, TwelveSouth makes a [HiRise for iMac, as well. The height adjustment is set in stone, but it does offer some very handy extra storage space.]
HiRise for MacBook was provided by TwelveSouth for review on iSource. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.