The Grovemade Laptop Riser

Monday, Feb 19, 2024

The Grovemade Laptop Riser works great with the Grovemade Desk Shelf. It may also be the prettiest laptop stand on the market right now.

It seems the best desk accessories on the market right now are part of a system of accessories. Each accessory is designed to fit alongside a variety of other parts, providing a sum total that should improve your desk setup, improve your focus, improve your delight, or whatever.

These systems are expensive. The three most widely loved systems will run you upwards of $1,000 or more to build out your entire desk with like-designed accessories that work together.

This has pros and cons, like anything else. The accessories looking and feeling the same will appease those looking for pure consistency across their desk (raises hand). When they’re designed to work together, they work together, potentially unlocking more space or more features than if they were used on their own.

But there are cons. If you can’t afford the whole set, the individual accessories may be missing the complementary features from the missing counterparts. There may also be compromises built into individual accessories for the sake of working with other parts.

This is where I stand on the Grovemade Laptop Riser. Grovemade’s Laptop Riser is designed to work specifically with the Grovemade Desk Shelf — the stand’s unique U-shaped design slides smoothly underneath the Desk Shelf, bringing your laptop’s stand closer to your external display. The front walnut accent beautifully moulds into any wood-focused desk design.

But on its own, the Grovemade Laptop Riser lacks a variety of features you’ll find in other laptop stands from Twelve South or Rain Design. You can’t fold the stand. You can’t really take it anywhere. Not only that, but you can’t truly use the stand among other desk setup systems. You can, but I doubt you’ll want.

The Grovemade Laptop Riser is truly designed as a Desk Shelf companion. You can use it on its own, don’t get me wrong. But in and among any other combination of desk accessories, you’re likely going to want a different laptop stand.


It’s always about materials with Grovemade products. Grovemade uses a combination of wood, metal, felt, and cork unlike any other accessory company right now. Each product is sturdy as a rock and fashionable enough to show off.

The front walnut block is sure to catch attention.

The Laptop Riser is no different. The hallmark accent here is the solid block of walnut affixed to the front of the stand. It’s a slightly warmer walnut stain — my desk is a milk chocolate walnut stain, and the walnut block on the Laptop Riser is ever-so-slightly more orange than the desk walnut. It looks great, especially in warmer settings.

The Riser's soft felt protects your laptop, but it's also a very warm material to rest your laptop on throughout a long day of work.

The top is lined with a warm felt. The felt lines the entire bottom-side, meaning your laptop will be sitting on the felt itself. If you’re worried about cooling, this is a warmer way to rest your laptop than other laptop stands, which either leave air underneath the display or use a different material selection.

The dark felt is the only colour option — something to keep in mind if you’re as picky as me for office themes.

Grovemade doesn’t use any cork in the Laptop Riser. Cork is one of Grovemade’s answers to the sustainability question, and I believe cork is one of Grovemade’s material weaknesses. Cork works great underneath a desk mat which needs friction, some sturdiness, and some softness. But it doesn’t work as well in the Desk Shelf, where you have weight on the shelf for long periods of time across a variety of humid and non-humid environments. Thankfully, Grovemade opted not to include any particular cork element in the Laptop Riser.

The unique U-shaped design holds your MacBook up quite high and quite steep. This stand isn't just beautiful, it also shows off your MacBook's beauty as well.

The Laptop Riser holds your MacBook Pro at a surprisingly steep angle when open. There are a few things to note here:

  • The steeper the angle, the less desk footprint the stand takes up.
  • The steeper the angle, the less area underneath the stand for storing items.

The stand is formed from a solid piece of metal. This isn’t the heaviest metal laptop stand out there — the Ugmonk Gather laptop stand seems heavier to me — but the Grovemade option is hefty in its own right. The metal pings when you set it down on the desk, and you won’t be budging it easily. Overall, the metal U-shaped backbone of the stand is sturdy and well-built.

Again, you’ll never be wanting when it comes to Grovemade’s material choices. These material choices drive the high Grovemade price but also drive the high Grovemade quality.

Use with the Grovemade Desk Shelf

As mentioned, the Laptop Riser is designed specifically for the Desk Shelf. It slides smoothly underneath the shelf, but takes up considerable space on the Shelf in the process.

This is the kicker with this laptop stand. Grovemade’s Laptop Riser is specifically designed for the Grovemade Desk Shelf. The U-shaped design slides nicely underneath the shelf, enabling you to mount your laptop up and off to the side in clamshell mode or to slide it nice and close to your external display with the laptop lid open. The Desk Shelf even has an off-centre middle tray divider, showcasing where Grovemade expects you to rest your external display and where the Laptop Stand is going to sit. It’s the sort of thing that seems obvious when you use these kinds of accessories together.

But! Again! There are tradeoffs to these accessory design choices.

  • Sliding the Laptop Riser underneath the Desk Shelf renders the Desk Shelf space behind the Laptop Riser on the Shelf useless. You probably won’t be storing anything back there, assuming you run your wires or close your laptop for clamshell mode from time to time. You also can’t access anything in Grovemade’s Desk Tray if you have one stored in the Desk Shelf.
  • Sliding the Laptop Riser underneath cuts into your mouse space if you’re right-handed. (Adding to my conclusion that the rationally superior spot to use a laptop stand is to the left of your external display, even if the Grovemade Desk Shelf isn’t designed for left-side use.)
  • Sliding the Laptop Riser to the right of the Desk Shelf’s right leg cuts down on the space you can use underneath the Desk Shelf. If you see the coolest setups on Reddit, you’ll see loads of folks storing a hard drive underneath a desk shelf in this manner. The Laptop Stand somewhat hinders your ability to store anything underneath the Desk Shelf.
Look at all that unusable space behind the Riser! This is the biggest bummer about the Riser and Desk Shelf combination, if you ask me.

So while the Laptop Stand the Desk Shelf look and function wonderfully together, there are enough cons here to give some folks pause if they’re looking for an ultra-functional desk system.

Use on Its Own

Simple: The Grovemade Laptop Riser is the single most beautiful laptop stand on the market. The Ugmonk Gather stand might give it a run for its money, but I’ll stand by the comment for now.

Cables from a wired keyboard will have to snake around the front of the laptop stand rather than run underneath like many other laptop stands, but this shouldn’t be too much of a bother. That walnut block on the uniquely U-shaped Laptop Stand will catch any onlooker’s attention.

You might find the Riser works with other desk accessory systems, but I doubt it — I try hard to stay on top of the best systems out there, and they all have their own unique laptop stand option.

Wrap Up

The high-quality materials, U-shaped design, and Made-in-America Grovemade product makes for an expensive price tag. The Grovemade Laptop Riser is $190 USD, especially steep when compared to foldable and portable options from Twelve South. The Riser is designed to be part of a larger, highly stylish, highly sustainable system, and it works best when used with other Grovemade products.

The Laptop Riser is a worthy laptop stand on its own and with the Desk Shelf. If you want to use your laptop display right next to your external display on the Desk Shelf, it's likely your best bet. Otherwise, you might find yourself looking elsewhere for a laptop stand with a few more features.

Don’t rest on the Laptop Riser — this is a great laptop stand in its own right.

But don’t shrug off the idea that the Riser is just part of a larger system — the moment you unbox and use the Laptop Riser, you’re going to want to add more Grovemade desk shelf system products to your desk. And that’ll cost you, like any good desk accessory system.

Supported By

The Infinity Loops Titanium Link Bracelet Apple Watch Band

Monday, Feb 12, 2024

The Titanium Link Bracelet from Infinity Loops on the Apple Watch Ultra.

I think I was wrong in my last review of an Infinity Loops Apple Watch band. I clearly stated there was no real Watch band that could do it all — everyday wear, fitness, water, formal wear, and more. If one exists, I thought it was a unicorn.

Some of my assumptions have been tested since. After testing out an Infinity Loops Titanium Link Bracelet for a few months, I think I found the closest thing to a true “everything, everywhere” Apple Watch band.

I’ve used the Titanium Link Bracelet from Infinity Loops in every scenario mentioned above and I’ve come away impressed.

The Link Bracelet can certainly be worn in a more formal setting (though I think wisdom would dictate a real mechanical watch in the most formal settings), but can also be worn in the hot tub, on the bike, on the golf course, or with shorts, a t-shirt, and boat shoes. I’m genuinely impressed with the versatility of this band.

The Band’s quality is equally impressive, though I don’t have any other direct comparisons. The band feels great, is reasonably easy to resize, and is durable enough to take a beating.

All in all, the Titanium Link Bracelet from Infinity Loops hits far above its weight, especially given the price tag.

Let’s dive in a little further.

Quality and Materials

I’ve been quite happy with the way Link Bracelet complements the Apple Watch Ultra. The titanium band connectors ensure material continuity from the face of the Watch through to the clasp, which also gives the Watch that more formal appeal.

The continuity appears to be mostly there in actual quality as well. To the touch, the Link Bracelet finish feels a lot like the Ultra Watch itself. Both feel durable with a slight grainy friction when you run your finger along the metal.

I’d say the Link Bracelet is a slightly cooler silver colour than the Watch Ultra — there’s just a tinge of brown to the Watch Ultra Titanium, though I don’t think it’s noticeable to the point someone would comment on it.

To add or remove the Titanium Link Bracelet to the Apple Watch Ultra, you first have to undo one of the links, add both connectors to the Watch, then reattach the links together. It's certainly a different order of operations than most are used to.

The Link Bracelet is made of individual link pieces that attach to one another. The clasp brings everything together at the bottom and is held together with the tiniest metal screws. It all looks and feels great.

There has to be some flexibility in the band to be comfortable to wear, though. Each link has enough tolerance to ensure the band can bend and breathe. The links don’t extend or compress north-south very well (eliminating the band’s ability to expand or contract based on the size of your wrist on a hot or cold day), but they do snake east-west well enough.

The one area of concern for me is the addition or removal of the band to the Watch Ultra itself. To put the band in place, you first need to disconnect one of the links from its partner and then slide the band connector into the Watch. Then you have to reconnect the links together to form the completed band. I didn’t do this the first time, instead trying to blunt force the band into the Watch Ultra by bending it beyond the tolerances intended. The result is a clasp that is ever so slightly off-kilter, and one which I need to meaningfully close rather than one that closes smoothly like most do out of the factory.

Overall, the fit and finish of the Titanium Link Bracelet is worthy of being put into the Watch Ultra. The band won’t bend or break on you, though you have to ensure you learn the proper technique for adding or removing it from your Watch Ultra.

Use Cases

The ability to use the Titanium Link Bracelet in nearly every facet of life is perhaps the band’s biggest selling point. The Link Bracelet can be used in both everyday and formal settings, in the cold and in the heat, in the water or in the sun, on the bike or in the gym, and more. This is perhaps the band I’ve switched out the least over the last few months.

But there’s also something about being a jack-of-all-trades. We know this. This band lives up to the moniker here — if you’re looking for a specific fitness band, the Link Bracelet is certainly not going to be your first choice. If you’re going deep sea diving, you’re not going to pick the Link Bracelet over the included Ocean band.

The benefit of the Link Bracelet then becomes its usability in a variety of circumstances when you don’t have any other band with you or the time to switch it out. This is the only band I have that I’ve used when riding the Peloton and when jumping in the hot tub an hour later. I misplaced my Ocean band for the day and the Link Bracelet nicely fit both use cases in a pinch. Now that I’ve found the Ocean band though, I most certainly switch out the bands when I jump on the bike or jump in the hot tub.

And lastly, while I do think you can wear the Link Bracelet in a more formal setting — I don’t think anyone should be concerned about this band fitting in all but the most formal wedding or ball-type settings. I still think there’s a line to be drawn in the sand where you should wear a real watch in formal settings. If it’s your wedding day, a real mechanical watch is still the way to go. The Link Bracelet doesn’t suddenly change the watch game for formal settings.

If you have no other watch choice though, the Titanium Link Bracelet and a Watch Ultra are going to look great in more formal settings.

Wrap Up

I’ve always had two or three concerns about wearing metallic watches bands:

  • The fear of the links in the band grabbing and tearing my arm hair out at the worst possible times. The metal pieces coming together are notorious for the occasional pinch and can also cause damage if knocked against other things.
  • The fear of a watch band that doesn’t expand or contract in the hot or cold — or worse, is extra-cold in the coldest settings.
  • The fear of how frankly “over-dressed” nearly all metallic watches bands look, no matter the type of watch.

By and large, most of my fears have not been realized. The metal links do grab some arm hair on occasion, but this is far from the norm. The ability to remove links and customize to your wrist size works well — and is actually the mechanism in which you have to remove the band itself. And the band works well in so many different circumstances.

All in all, I am quite happy with Titanium Link Bracelet's ability to be a jack-of-all-trades. The band is certainly a master of none, but is great in a pinch no matter the use case.

Overall, the Infinity Loops Titanium Watch Band is a fantastic second Watch band to buy. It’s the band that can do everything pretty well. If you’re in need of a specialized band, then consider a specialized band. It’s that easy.

Infinity Loops sent me this Apple Watch band free of charge for purposes of review. I’ve worked as hard as I can to ensure I provide an honest review.

The Mode Envoy

Sunday, Jan 21, 2024

The Anthracite-themed Mode Envoy. Prebuilt. Thank goodness.

I don’t think you can “review” a mechanical keyboard, per se. They’re too much a sum of their parts. They’re too customizable. There’s so much you can do to make a board great. Or terrible. A great board build could be ruined by bad switches or poor keycaps. A poor build could be covered up by great keycaps or a few neat Bluetooth features.

Said another way, the Mode Envoy in my hands may be reviewed differently by other folks.

This new home office is a work-in-progress, with a new desk and other accessories incoming. The Mode Envoy's design is at the heart of the desk and accessory choices.

I purchased a limited run, prebuilt Mode Envoy a couple months ago. The prebuilt Envoys come with Mode Anthracite Keycaps, Anthracite Silent Tactile Switches, the now-famous Lattice Block Mount system, and more. Normally the Envoy is a custom keyboard that needs to be built by the buyer. This limited run screamed my name, if only because of a poor confidence level when it comes to building.

So despite being a sum of its underlying parts, the Mode Envoy indeed rises to a new level of fit and finish in my collection. The Envoy has a feel that has declared my keyboarding days in two different eras: the pre-Envoy era and the post-Envoy era.

The Chassis

The white e-coated aluminum chassis is sturdy. So sturdy. Like, “I thought plastic was just fine until I tried a Mode Envoy” sturdy. The chassis is likely the part that sets the Envoy apart from other semi-expensive prebuilt keyboards out there. This chassis feels formidable.

The prebuilt Envoy came with a grey aluminum accent, which is heavier than the shown walnut accent. I prefer the walnut, if only because it fits the rest of the office so well.

The chassis has two specific channels for added customization: the weight channel in the bottom of the chassis, which you have to remove the entire PCB to change out; and the accent channel on the top of the chassis, which you’d customize to your own accent choice. I removed the PCB and removed the pre-built aluminum accent the Envoy came with and added the walnut accent. The walnut accent fits all my other desk accessories nicely.

This prebuilt model has a simple grey anodized aluminum weight, which isn’t on the heaviest end of the spectrum by any means. If you want this keyboard to feel even more sturdy, you can upgrade to a copper weight. If you added a copper accent, you’d add additional weight to the board as well.

Monotone. Pictured is the Nuphy Air75 wrist rest, which was an incorrect purchase. I recommend getting the larger two-tone rest from Nuphy if you're looking for a closely matching option.

I focus specifically here on the heft of the keyboard because it is the fundamental feature to this keyboard. This sturdiness makes the keyboard feel so true when typing. The Envoy isn’t going to slip or slide around the desk. I can’t budge it.

I felt the Nuphy Halo96 was a hefty keyboard. But the fact this 65% Envoy has more weight and heft than the 96% Halo96 quickly drives home the difference between consumer-friendly prebuilts and an introduction to the mid-tier keyboard market.

The Switches

The prebuilt Envoy comes installed with Mode’s own Anthracite Silent Tactile switches. They are wonderfully quiet and ensure you can use this keyboard in any environment — office settings to sleeping babies.

The Envoy is wired only — all the weight inside are hefty materials and not battery cells. I'm not yet sure how I feel about this.

These switches have a bottom out force of 62g, which is slightly less than the popular Boba U4T Silent Tactiles. The Anthracites are slightly mushier than the Bobas as well. You can really feel the Boba switch push back on your fingertip on its way back after being pressed and you will never forget the huge tactile bump on the way down on a Boba keypress. The same isn’t so for these Anthracites — there is a slight bump down and even more timid return on the way back up. The Anthracites are quieter, though.

Give me a choice and I am picking the Boba switches. But the Anthracites are growing on me.

The Keycaps

Mode’s Anthracite keycaps are far more than just good looks. They provide a retro style that would fit any monotone or greyscale workspace. But more importantly, Mode has opted for a few specific features which set these keycaps apart from anything you’re picking up right now from Keychron or Nuphy:

Mode's keycap legends are legendary for their size. They're huge and magnificent.
  • PBT/ABS blend materials — These keycaps are optimized around scratch and shine resistance, ensuring your fingerprint oils don’t take their toll on your keyboard. The keycaps have a more tactile feel to them, especially if I compare to my Nuphy Halo96 stock keycaps. I love the feel of the Tai Hao keycaps on ZSA’s keyboard offerings, but they pick up finger grime instantly. Mode seems to have solved this problem.
  • Huge double shot legends — Mode’s keycap legends are famously large. I love these large legends. The legends are standard font and easy to read. They’re massive and hard to miss. And the modifier keys come with the Apple-specific symbols baked right in. I love these keycaps.
  • You receive a true entire set — In case you ever want to use these keycaps on a differently-sized or shaped keyboard, Mode sends the entire keycap set with the prebuilt Envoy. So if you want to use the extra keys on a different keyboard or opt for a different keyboard altogether, these keycaps will be available no matter your keyboard selection.

Visually speaking, these Anthracite keycaps are the star of the show. They really bring the Envoy’s design to the forefront. And while the design is likely why you come to the show, it’s the feel of the keycaps which will have you returning to Mode for your next set.

Wrap Up

All in, the prebuilt Mode Envoy was $385 USD — a staggering number once you convert to Canadian dollars and add customs, duties, taxes, and shipping. I wanted this keyboard. So I paid for it. You do you.

The reason I write about the keyboard is because I think I now understand why these keyboards can get so expensive. This sum of parts is far, far better than any previous sum of mechanical keyboard parts I’ve tried. The chassis is sturdier and truer. The switches are great for any environment. The keycaps are probably the nicest keycaps on the market right now. Subjective, I know.

This sum of parts feels as though my mechanical keyboard hobby has been finalized. The only keyboard I want now is the Sonnet.