It’s true, there are some products that make you say: “I can’t believe nobody thought of that before.” While the TriPad is not really that type of product, when you start using this clever mobile workstation in your studio or on location, you just might say: “I wish somebody had thought of that before.”
Though not as lightweight or, it must be said, elegant as the Belly-Bean mobile desk, the hard plastic TriPad does something the wood Belly-Bean can’t do: It fits over your tripod.
If you’re a photographer who likes to shoot with your camera tethered to a laptop, the work area the TriPad creates is convenient and space saving. (No more putting your laptop on the floor.)
We’ve reviewed other products that are just streamlined laptop tables that sit next to your tripod for tethering, and while they worked fine, they add another object to the shoot area you could trip over. The TriPad lets you cut back on the clutter while giving you a laptop desk right next to your camera. Consequently, you no longer need an extra-long FireWire or USB cord to tether your medium-format camera or DSLR to your notebook computer.
We tried the TriPad with several standard tripods and it fit over all of them securely. According to a company representative we spoke with, the TriPad works on all cylindrical three-legged tripods on the market though not with the large, double-legged video tripods.
Assembly is a no-brainer: Just snap the triangle-shaped plastic hanger onto the flat work area, and the TriPad is ready to roll. Along with providing a space for your laptop, the accessory has two slide-out extensions: one on the right where you can place a notepad or a computer mouse, and one on the left with a hole for that essential cup of coffee or cold drink. (A beer can will fit there. Just saying.) When you’re done, the TriPad breaks down for relatively easy transport.
The only thing I wasn’t crazy about with this accessory was the weight. At 3.5 pounds, the TriPad’s on the heavy side and I wish there were some way to further break it down so you could fit it in a laptop bag. Also, while I liked its rugged and sturdy build, it feels a bit clunky.
The Bottom Line
Though it’s not as streamlined as we might have liked, the TriPad is an ingenious accessory that creates a useful and convenient mobile workstation for your laptop by hitching itself over your tripod. Damn, I wish I’d thought of this myself.
Pros: Gets your laptop off the floor and next to your camera where it belongs
Cons: Hard plastic, industrial design feels like it was built from an egg crate
Price: $99; www.gotripad.com