The 10 Best Tray Tables
This wiki has been updated 26 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 recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 19, 2021:
In this update, we replaced the Table Mate II with the Table Mate II Pro. While it is a little pricier, the Pro model has a few extra features that make the upgrade worth it, like a slot that can prop up a phone or tablet and a little clip-on compartment that's perfect for storing a remote.
We also replaced the Lifetime Personal with the Lifetime Adjustable, which is a little smaller and more lightweight than the Personal, making it more useful as a tray table rather than a full-size folding table. This model stands out from others on the list because it can withstand the elements well enough to be used outdoors, so you can use it for TV dinners in the winter and garden lunches in the spring.
The Signature Life Independence was removed due to availability concerns and replaced with the Able Life Assist, which serves a similar dual purpose: providing a swivel tray for a couch or arm chair and acting as a stable surface to help a person stand up from a seated position, with a large handle that's easy to grip and can support up to 250 pounds.
March 04, 2020:
Even though we like its fun natural imagery, we've elected to remove the Cape Craftsmen Lodge. Unfortunately, the price-to-quality ratio leaves a lot to be desired, making it perhaps a problematic investment in the long term. And because the Sharper Image Kist has become tough to find, we've opted to remove it, too. As for top choices, we still like the Winsome Wood Isabelle thanks to its attractive styling that's not over the top, as well as for the serving tray that sits perched on the stand. The Avantree Neetto remains a good value, as well; it is light, compact, and a breeze to use, and is now offered in a lower height that some users will find more comfortable.
For those who are on a budget, we've added the AmazonBasics Classic, a set of four trays with a matching stand. There's nothing fancy about it, but it comes in several colors and won't break the bank. We also selected the Table Mate II, although it's worth noting that it doesn't feel as sturdy as most wood choices. It, too, isn't overly expensive, and most will find its compact design a plus, as it's easy to store. Finally, on the pricier end of the spectrum, there's the Signature Life Independence. Although it was made for chairs and sofas, some find it also works as an overbed table. The padded support handle is a nice touch, but some assembly is required.
Normann Copenhagen Block A mobile side table, the Normann Copenhagen Block has a modern feel that will fit into any contemporary, sleek decor. The wheels allow it to move from room to room with ease, which means you can use it for a variety of functions without too many hassles. Plus, the powder-coated steel is robust and long-lasting. normann-copenhagen.com
Poppin Natural Ash You'd be hard-pressed to find an option that's much simpler than the Poppin Natural Ash, which has a bottom that slides under your sofa or chair to give you fast and easy access to your tablet, beverages, and more. The natural wood is warm and inviting, and it's not unnecessarily heavy, although at 10 pounds, it does still feel sturdy. poppin.com
The Dangers Of Eating On Your Lap
This is especially important today, as there are more binge-worthy shows than ever, with seemingly less and less time to enjoy them.
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.
These tables have stable surfaces supported by strong buttresses coming from only one of their two sides.
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 their 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 legroom or your ability to get up and sit back down.
Once you’ve decided what shape and size are 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 lockstep 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 lockstep 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.