Screenshot: The AutoExec Laptop Steering Wheel Desk promises to make life behind the wheel more productive.
There's a hot personal accessory out — one reviewer uses it for e-mail; another for sushi. It's being called a timesaver — even "the greatest thing ever invented." It's called a Laptop Steering Wheel Desk — and you're forgiven if you haven't heard about it yet.
The platform-like device hooks onto the bottom of your car's steering wheel, putting a flat, useful surface at your disposal.
The laptop desk at work. (Amazon)
Its maker, Mobile Office, suggests you use the Wheelmate Desk to help you write and drink. As someone who devotes a fair amount of time to those two pastimes, I was intrigued.
But then, the company threw in this buzzkill tidbit: "For safety reasons, never use this product while driving."
Even that caveat tucked into the product description hasn't stopped reviewers on Amazon's site from writing about all the ways this new member of the AutoExec line is improving their lives.
Here's a sample — the review voted Most Helpful by people considering the steering wheel desk:
Amazing! Holds my sheet music perfectly while driving
"This has been a total lifesaver. It allows me to prop my sheet music against the wheel, allowing me to play the guitar with both hands while driving."
But even with positive reviews like that, there are always a few complainers. The 1-star review from K. Healy exposes a basic fault. "Doesn't work on motorcycles!" is Healy's gripe. Even after refitting the device to a motorcycle, Healy complains, "Everytime I lean into the turn my book slides off."
Other reviewers list more conventional (car-oriented) uses: doing crossword puzzles or changing a baby's diaper, for instance. And one scofflaw admits to using it to set up drinks when barhopping with friends.
The Laptop Steering Wheel Desk has been out since 2003, according to Amazon's site. And some early adopters had mixed reviews.
But the steering wheel desk has gained fans in 2009 — and as it does, Amazon's users have been uploading their own photos to the product's page.
One reviewer also says that the product has proven useful on airliners — on flights from San Diego to Minneapolis, to be exact. But they didn't post photos to back up their claim, so I can't vouch for that — or for any of these reviews, now that you mention it.