Updated October 22, 2018 by Misty Alder

The 10 Best Tray Tables

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This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Whether you're looking for something to hold a snack while you watch TV or need a sturdy and versatile surface to support your laptop and paperwork, check out our selection of tray tables. We've included a variety of models to complement any decor, with designs especially suited to dining in bed, relaxing in your easy chair or meeting deadlines from wherever you're sitting. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best tray table on Amazon.

10. Dar Living Folding

9. Cape Craftsmen Lodge

8. Coaster Home Furnishings Traditional

7. LapGear Media

6. Sharper Image Kist

5. Meistar Sofa Side

4. Lifetime Personal

3. Avantree Multifunctional

2. Signature Life Independence

1. Winsome Wood Isabelle

The Dangers Of Eating On Your Lap

Our meal breaks are among the only times we have to dig into a new series.

Food and entertainment go together. There’s no denying it. Even the finest restaurants in the world often employ musical entertainment, usually in the form of live musicians, to accompany their dishes. For most of us eating at home, it’s become all too common that we do so with a television on. This is especially important today, as there are more binge-worthy shows than ever, with seemingly less and less time to enjoy them. Our meal breaks are among the only times we have to dig into a new series.

The problem is that our common eating areas are usually not designed around the television, so the kitchen or dining room table is often left behind in favor of the couch or the bed. There’s nothing inherently wrong with eating in bed or on your sofa, but that setup does present a number of dangers that using a tray table can help you avoid.

For starters, there’s the spill risk. If you’re trying to hold a plate of food in one hand and manipulate the remote control with the other, the odds of tipping over your food are rather high. This can cause irreversible damage to your upholstery, or to your bedding and clothes. If the food is particularly hot, that spill risk also puts your body in danger, exposing you to potentially severe burns that could require immediate and expensive medical attention.

Then, there’s your posture. Sitting back on the couch or curling up in bed with your grub often causes you to sit with an unhealthy curve in your spine. By placing a tray table in the right position, you can support your meal in a position that forces you to sit with good posture. Not only is that much better for your body, it’ll have positive effects on your psychology, as well.

Finally, there’s a risk that applies specifically to men when it comes to eating on your lap. While usually brought up when regarding the dangerous heat levels produced by laptops, hot food can also hazardously elevate the temperature in the neighborhood of your reproductive organs. Chronic exposure to increased heat in that region can decrease the potency of certain fluids, potentially making it harder for you to make a baby.

How To Choose The Best Tray Table For You

There are a lot of different kinds of tray tables on the market, and choosing one over another might seem like a daunting task. There are thankfully a few simple things you can consider that will make your choice a lot easier. Once you’ve figured out what you really want, you’re sure to find a viable option here on our list.

If you find that you need more surface area, you’ll encounter a number of different tables structured to fit near or around your furniture in a variety of ways.

One of the greatest ways in which one tray table differs from another is in its shape. That shape will largely determine how a given tray table fits into your home, and how you’ll go about using it. The first thing you need to consider when evaluating your size needs is the average size of your meals. If you’re the type to grab a small bowl of soup or cereal, and not much else, then a smaller table will suit you. Smaller tray tables can often sit comfortably in your lap or attach to the arm of a sofa, giving you a little more freedom to move as you settle into your seat.

If you find that you need more surface area, you’ll encounter a number of different tables structured to fit near or around your furniture in a variety of ways. The traditional tray table fits into this category, and unfolds to sit in front of your spot on the couch or off to the side of your bed. While these are very useful, the design of their legs limits the ways in which you can position both it and yourself while you’re eating.

One of the most popular tray table designs of late is the C-table, which gained its name from its shape. These tables have stable surfaces supported by strong buttresses coming from only one of its two sides. Those supports run through to a base that is designed to easily slide beneath your couch or bed, allowing the table surface to rest just above your lap without interfering with your leg room or your ability to get up and sit back down.

Once you’ve decided what shape and size is right for you, the remaining factors include construction materials and aesthetics. Some models are made from much more durable materials than others, and you’ll have to choose where you feel comfortable sacrificing durability for savings to select a material. Since these units are essentially pieces of furniture, you’re going to want to make sure that they fit in with your current decor, not just in style, but also in practice, and a model with adjustable legs will ensure that you can fit your table wherever you like.

A Brief History Of The Tray Table

The tray table as we know it grew in lock step with the television itself. Before TVs were commonplace in people’s homes, the radio reigned supreme. One of the benefits of a radio is that you didn’t need to look at it, so if you want to enjoy some music, the news, or a radio drama while eating, all you have to do is turn it up until you can hear it in the dining room.

The tray table as we know it grew in lock step with the television itself.

Once the television became a necessity for many consumers, more and more of us wanted to be able to eat and watch at the same time. It was then, in the 1950s, that the first TV tray tables were introduced. Interestingly enough, these devices were made available a full year before the first company to produce a pre-made TV dinner would take their creation to the public.

In recent years, more people have introduced additional televisions to their homes, often adding them to the bedroom, and even sometimes to the kitchen. We may be migrating largely to media presented on our phones and computers, but the TV is still the biggest, best way to watch our favorite content, and as long as that’s true, the tray table will have a useful place in our lives.

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Misty Alder
Last updated on October 22, 2018 by Misty Alder

Born and raised in the American Deep South, Misty's career in elder care took a sharp left turn when she was swept away to the land of Robin Hood by her very own Merry Man. She's a coffee-swilling master of stitch-witchery with a magical touch in the kitchen and a neverending stream of Disney gag reels playing in her head. A certified nursing assistant by trade and a toy aficionado by choice, some intense parenting ensured she was well versed in gardening, carpentry and electrical engineering by the time she entered grade school. Her culinary artistry, tool-wielding wizardry, and skill with needle and thread were honed over nearly four decades in the kitchens, workrooms, and outdoor spaces of family, friends, and clients. Voracious reading took care of the rest.

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