The size of laptops sure has shrunk over the past five years. I remember a short while ago, lugging a seven pound monster back and forth between my home and office. Battery life was a few hours and you used a telephone modem to connect to the internet. Today, if you are using a laptop, they weigh less than a few pounds and many don’t even have an Ethernet connection, simply using the wireless adapter to connect. Depending upon the manufacturer and capability, the laptop may not even have any USB ports.
There are a lot of choices for mounting your laptop in your car. Car laptop mounts range from a flat surface application to a more complex custom mount that bolts to your car seat.
When deciding on your car laptop mount, first measure the size of your laptop. Most mounts include a universal cradle that grips the sides of the laptop so you want to be sure that your laptop will fit securely inside that cradle. A lot of these cradles will fit a laptop or a large tablet such as an Apple iPad. Put some thought into where you would like to mount it. There are three mainstream options for laptop mounts: car floor, flat surface and windshield. For a flat surface mount, these screw into your dash or console, so you need to decide if you are comfortable drilling holes into your dash which may not help you when it comes to selling your vehicle. For a seat bolt mount, determine if the seat bolt is accessible. We wrote a very detailed article on seat bolt mounts which you can read here. A car floor mount requires drilling into the car floor, but typically are difficult to be seen when you remove it as the carpeting will likely cover it.
For stability and ease of install, you can’t beat a car floor laptop mount. Buy a mount that has at least four holes at the base. Be sure the mount has the ability to be removed or swung out of the way in case you would like a passenger to ride in the front seat. Be sure to tighten the bolts as much as possible. My experience has been that a direct floor installation will always provide the best stability and least amount of issues. Be sure the mount is constructed of metal, as you need the strength for the heavier mount. Ironically, the mount will weigh much more than the laptop.
The least intrusive and the most popular mount is one which can be attached to a car seat bolt. Assuming you have determined that the seat bolts are accessible, this is a good option because the mount can be installed and removed without any potential for permanent holes in your car. The key part of the installation is to ensure the seat bolts are wrench tight. The vast majority of mounting issues when it comes to seat bolt mounts are caused by users that hand tighten the seat bolt instead of using a wrench.
Seat bolt mounts come in a few different flavors. I always liked the gooseneck laptop mount. These mounts connect to the seat bolts on each side of the seat. The advantage of these mounts are the endless adjustment options available. You can bend these into whatever angle and pivot the tray to wherever it is needed. The fit is universal in that they fit almost all car and truck models where the bolt is accessible. Installation is the same as any other seat bolt mount. Loosen the bolts, replace the bolts over the mounting loop, wrench tighten the bolts.
Universal seat bolt rigid mounts are similar to the gooseneck in installation, however, the extension from the seat bolt up to the laptop tray is a series of solid metal rods which have pivot points at each connection. You may find these mounts superior to the gooseneck variety for heavier laptops. The gooseneck may shake a bit with larger heavier laptops.
There are also many models of custom seat bolt mounts. These mounts include a vehicle model specific base which is made to line up perfectly to your seat bolt. Installation complexity is the most difficult, so be sure you are comfortable with auto mechanics or hire a professional installer. These mounts are made of metal and normally use a series of pivoting metal components for adjustment.
Flat surface laptop mounts are normally used for attaching to your dashboard or console. As previously noted, you will drill holes into your dash so when these are removed, you will be left with a dash that has a series of holes left. If the vehicle is a commercial one, you may not be overly concerned, but a personal vehicle which you may one day trade in may not be the best place to use these.
You may see other laptop mounts out there. I have seen suction mounts which I do not recommend as it covers up too much of your windshield to make them safe to use. I have also seen cup holder laptop mounts which are not too useful as your stick shift will likely be blocked so I do not recommend these either. If you stick with the seat bolt, floor or flat surface mount, you should be happy with the end result.