The living room has become a tech battlefield in recent years, with industry giants trying - and, in some cases, failing - to lay siege to our big-screen TVs with new gadgets and gizmos.
PCs, in particular, have repeatedly attempted to make the transition from home office to living room, and gaming manufacturers still harbour hopes of displacing the games console with something far more potent. Corsair is one such brand and the California-based outfit is making a big play for living-room dominance with the upcoming small-form-factor Bulldog gaming PC and its accompanying Lapdog portable gaming control centre.
The duo is intended to go hand-in-hand, yet a delayed Bulldog launch has led to Lapdog being first to arrive at retail carrying a £109.99 MSRP. We've spent the past couple of weeks getting acquainted with our review sample, so let's share some thoughts.
The first thing you might be wondering is what the heck is a Lapdog? Good question. In a nutshell, Lapdog is designed to house Corsair's existing keyboard and mice in an effort to make them more comfortable for living-room use. Say, for example, you decide to attach a Bulldog or any other gaming rig to your 4K TV, you might want to bring a proper keyboard and mouse with you, and Lapdog essentially helps realise that goal.
We would normally expect living-room-friendly hardware to be small and discrete, yet Lapdog is anything but. It's a big piece of kit, measuring 735mm (L) x 261mm (W) x 94mm in size and tipping the scales at 2.63kg. You won't be stowing this in your coffee-table drawer, that's for sure, though it's no surprise that Corsair has favoured performance over form.
Lapdog's size is mandated by its need to maintain compatibility with any Corsair K70/K65 mechanical keyboard as well as providing a good-sized mouse pad. It is a large tray on which to house a keyboard and mouse, though of course Corsair does put a little more thought into it than that.
The area above the keyboard is dedicated to cable storage to help minimise clutter, there's a USB 3.0 hub integrated beneath the mouse pad, and if you are going to try balancing this 735mm board on your lap, there's a full-length memory foam cushion that's contoured for comfort and able to clip-on to the bottom of the unit via a series of strong magnets.
A good portion of the Lapdog is plastic to help keep weight down to a reasonable level, though Corsair does maintain the look and feel of other products in its gaming range by including a brushed aluminium top plate that provides ample rigidity. Maintaining that higher-quality top finish, the 28cm mouse pad features a textured polymer coating that looks attractive but can be deemed noisy if you're accustomed to a softer surface.
Around back, there's only one thing of note; the power connector in the upper-right corner. Corsair supplies a 16ft cable as part of the bundle, which on one end connects to the Lapdog via USB 3.0 and power in, and on the other end connects to the host PC via USB 3.0 and to the mains via the attachable mains adapter. That means Lapdog will require a plug socket, and if you don't live alone, you'll have to warn others about the 16ft trip hazard traipsing across the living-room floor.
What's handy is that setup is relatively straightforward. Undo 10 screws using the supplied hex key and you can simply pull away the mouse pad plate, cable compartment cover and keyboard adapter plate. The latter would be reattached to fill the void alongside the 10-keyless Corsair K65 keyboard, but isn't required should you choose to install a full-size Corsair K70.
The hardware is easy to work with, yet there are a couple of surprise omissions. Firstly, there's no wrist support, and if you're the owner of a Corsair K70, you might be frustrated to find that the bundled palm rest isn't compatible with the Lapdog. Secondly, for left-handed users it's worth noting that the mouse pad can't be switched to the other side, and we reckon Corsair has missed a trick in not catering for users who, in any case, prefer to keep their mouse to the left of the keyboard.