The constant reach of technology on your wallet doesn’t end with a laptop or desktop purchase. That would be too easy.
For any Apple device, there is a well designed Twelve South accessory waiting shortly thereafter.
Case in point: I picked up a 2016 MacBook recently and began using it as my everyday laptop at home and at the office. The first few weeks were marvellous thanks to the improved battery life and the best-in-market portability.
It didn’t take long for my shoulders and neck to disagree though. The 12” screen and chassis don’t give much in terms of ergonomics and posture, especially after long bouts of writing.
This is where Twelve South’s ParcSlope steps in. The ParcSlope is a stand for MacBooks, MacBook Airs, MacBook Pros, and iPad Pros which brings up the height of the screen to a better viewing angle and props up the keyboard and trackpad to give a more ergonomic experience. As a whole, the ParcSlope fulfills its goals tremendously, but I have two small nitpicks along the way.
Author’s note: The Twelve South ParcSlope is on sale for the first time as part of Amazon’s Prime Day. You can pick up the stand for only $35 (a $15 savings) over the regular $50 price tag.
Design, Build, and Materials
The ParcSlope has one of those designs that makes you scratch your head and wonder why you didn’t dream up the idea yourself.
The stand is a simple piece of fairly heavy aluminum, machined into an angled “J-like” shape to prop up your laptop or iPad to an 18-degree angle. There is only a single marking on the topside and the majority of the branding to be found is on the stand’s underside. There are no screws or allen wrenches to setup out of the box. The ParcSlope is the ParcSlope; nothing more and nothing less.
Alongside the branding on the underside, the ParcSlope has a few rubber feet to protect your desk or table from the stand’s aluminum. These rubber feet do quite a good job — their friction keeps the stand in place and keeps inadvertent bumps from causing serious damage. Due to the unfortunately slippery top rubber pads, you’ll find the bottom rubber feet do too good a job at times. If you want to reposition the ParcSlope with your MacBook on top, you’re better off to lift the entire stand off the desk and reposition.
The topside of the ParcSlope has a single stamped logo and it has two rubber pads to protect the bottom of your notebook from the stand’s aluminum. The rubber looks and feels really cool — it’s riddled with little holes and the rubber can be slightly squished if pressure is applied. It’s not as hard as the rubber on the Rain Design mStand, for example.
The front rubber pad has a cutout that aligns with your MacBook’s cutout for opening the screen. I also find myself resting my thumb in this cutout when using the trackpad. The edge of the rubber is raised to keep your notebook from sliding right off the stand and into your lap. I’ve found the rubber pads to be a bit slipper though, so this raised lip often isn’t enough to keep a MacBook from sliding off after a random bump. I’d actually like to see this lip bigger, believe it or not.
The top rubber pad is the same material as the bottom rubber pad, but there are two additional ridges to help increase friction for different sized devices. Additionally, if you use the ParcSlope with an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, the topmost ridge is a nice place to rest your Pencil for safekeeping. As I’ve already mentioned, the 18-degree slope is a comfortable slope for long hours of use, but the angle is large enough to justify giving the rubber pads some more friction to hold your MacBook more securely.
Lastly, on the backside, you’ll find a cutout in the aluminum frame for cable management. Most laptop stands come with some form of cable management and Twelve South’s ParcSlope works just as you’d expect.
The ParcSlope’s simple design would be simply useless if a number of specific details weren’t nailed. The typing angle, of course, is of utmost importance. How the stand cools your hardworking MacBook is also important. The stand’s weight is important, as you wouldn’t want your laptop falling to the floor after a random grazing. In these respects, the ParcSlope completely fulfills its purpose.
Eighteen degrees is a very specific angle. Any lower and the ParcSlope wouldn’t prop up your MacBook’s screen to a proper ergonomic height. Any higher and the typing angle would be uncomfortable. I believe 18-degrees is the best you’re going to do for a stand that is meant to be both ergonomic for your eyes and ergonomic for your hands. If my shoulders and neck had to choose a viewing angle between the Rain Design mStand and the ParcSlope, they would choose the mStand. If my hands had to choose a comfortable typing angle, they’d choose the ParcSlope. In tandem, I believe the ParcSlope is the best midway point for viewing angles and typing angles.
So with this said, if I had to work with the ParcSlope for eight hours a day, I am pretty sure my shoulders would tire eventually. I also believe my wrists would tire eventually of using the trackpad at the 18-degree angle. As such, I prefer to use a Magic Mouse when working with the ParcSlope. By no means is using the trackpad uncomfortable at this angle, and by no means is it worse than working without the ParcSlope — I just find I tire after a few hours of working with the stand.
Same goes for typing at this angle. For long spurts of writing, propping my MacBook on the ParcSlope is my favourite plan of attack. Just about every review I’ve written in the last few months has been written with the MacBook and the ParcSlope — it’s truly enjoyable, comfortable, and ergonomic.
But I’d be lying if I said it was perfect. After an hour or so, my wrists start to ask for a break. There’s never any pain — just the need to rest. Which is probably a good thing, as my legs and rear-end should stand up at least once an hour.
The ParcSlope was released before the 12” MacBook was officially announced, so the stand hasn’t been directly designed to work with the MacBook. Same goes for the iPad Pro — it just so happens the ParcSlope works wonderfully with the biggest iPad. With the MacBook, there is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half of extra space on the top rubber pad. This extra space between the edge of the stand and the 12” MacBook (and, I’m assuming, the 11” MacBook Air also) has no flexing issues whatsoever. It’s just a reminder that this stand was not directly made for my notebook.
On the flip side, that extra space works wonders for the iPad Pro. With the extra grooves built into the top rubber pad, there is a simple spot to leave your Apple Pencil when you’re not using it. Or, if you’re an analog user like me, you can leave your non-digital pen above the iPad Pro or behind the 12” MacBook. Again, that extra space provides no issue whatsoever — it merely looks odd when viewed from the side.
I believe the ideal use-case for the ParcSlope is with a 15” Retina MacBook Pro below a Thunderbolt Display on its own stand. In fact, this workflow is directly highlighted on Twelve South’s website:
Many creative pros use an external display set to the right or left side of their MacBook. ParcSlope invites you to consider another point of view. What if your MacBook was front-and-center, with an elevated second display floating above? This delivers the same amount of screen real estate in half the desktop width, with a tilted keyboard and cooler MacBook – courtesy of ParcSlope underneath. Think different? Indeed.
If Apple comes out with a Retina Thunderbolt/Cinema Display and a MacBook Pro that can drive it (and if I had the means), I think the ParcSlope would be my stand of choice when docking the MacBook Pro.
A Few Downsides
I have two gripes when using the ParcSlope, but I think it’s farfetched to attribute those gripes to the ParcSlope.
First, I don’t find the ParcSlope props up the 12” MacBook’s screen high enough for prolonged use. I’ve mentioned already that propping up the screen higher would cause a higher typing angle, which is a tradeoff I wouldn’t make.
Second, the ParcSlope’s top rubber pads are just a bit slippery for my liking. On countless occasions, I’ve just barely grazed the MacBook and it has slid out of its proper position on the ParcSlope. I’ve never come close to knocking it off the desk, mind you, so this is far from being make or break. I also have to admit I’m using the lightest Apple notebook ever created. This surely has an impact on how easily the MacBook moves around on the ParcSlope. We have a 13” Retina MacBook Pro kicking around the house and it is much more difficult to budge off of the ParcSlope.
Why mention these two issues when they aren’t really due to the ParcSlope? Because if the ParcSlope were to somehow fix these issues (one of which is possible, the other of which I am being entirely unfair), the ParcSlope would become an indispensable accessory for me. I would get to the point that I wouldn’t be able to work without the ParcSlope. It’s a near perfectly executed laptop stand and these two fixes would make it perfect.
Or, I could buy a bigger MacBook Pro and fix those issues myself.
Time to move on.
Twelve South has put itself on every Apple owner’s radar thanks to products and designs like the ParcSlope. Every few months, a new Twelve South product hits the airwave, and everyone wonders how the company made the obvious look so simple.
To me, this has never been better exemplified than by the ParcSlope. The stand is a single piece of heavy aluminum with some adhesive and rubber. Throw those three materials together, add in a little math, and you’ve got a laptop stand that makes typing more comfortable and makes viewing more comfortable. You can use the stand with or without an external display and you can use it with or without a mouse. Do whatever you like.
I purchased a Rain Design mStand about three years ago and often found myself using the stand without a keyboard or mouse. The typing angle was quite steep, but I would live with it in order to prop up my MacBook’s screen to a more comfortable height. The ParcSlope immediately removed the Rain Design mStand from my workflow. Now, I’m looking for an mStand buyer. The ParcSlope is regularly $50 (although right now it’s on sale for only $35!) — right around the same price as the mStand — so price isn’t a differentiating factor. Overall, I’d choose the ParcSlope.
The ParcSlope is Twelve South at its best. It’s so simple, it’s obvious.