The Marcus Lloyd Preset

Sunday, Apr 28, 2024

My favourite photographer finally released his own preset. Yes, preset. It’s one preset. And it’s actually pretty simple. I’ve long emulated Lloyd’s look and I appreciate he has let his fans in on some behind-the-scenes technique with this preset.

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The Birchtree Review of the Apple Vision Pro

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2024

It’s been awhile since a Fresh Link hit these parts, but I can’t think of a better link than this review from Matt. One of the better Vision Pro critiques out there.

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.

Materials

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.