Their existing laptop desk used a friction pad inside the tube to hold the desk at its given height; the user had one paddle to release this and set the height, but tilt was not adjustable.
I gave them the following concepts (for images, click thumbnails above):
#1. The design most similar to the company's existing products.
#2. A folding design for compact storage: just five boards with three hinges. The lower two parts are hinged together, and the three upper parts are hinged together. The small 'tongue' sticking down from the desktop has two pegs in it, which fit through the holes in both the upper vertical board and the lower vertical board. This sets both the height and tilt of the desktop by determining the angle from the desktop to the top vertical board as well as the location where the top vertical board meets the lower board.
#3. A design that sets both height and tilt with one peg. This design is basically the same as the previous, but with a single peg. It does not fold as flat, but looks nicer. (And the corner pieces could be hinged to fold flat if desired.)
#4. Double rails. The knobs would be spring-loaded to hold the desk to the rails by friction. Grabbing them and pulling outwards to release, the user could set both height and tilt and simply let go to set the desk in its new position. The knobs could either be inside a double-rail or straddling a single rail.
#5. Armlike design. Another folding idea, using a toothed friction grip. The user holds the desktop and squeezes the single knob, which pushes the two parts of the upper arm apart. This releases the teeth in both the "elbow" joint and the top joint. The user moves the desktop to desired height and tilt and lets go to set the desk in its new position. This design can lean over beds and couches, but squeezing the knob without holding the desktop brings disaster. The bottom joint is activated separately and has only two positions--up or flat.
#6. A prism base, with rigid top, allows height and tilt adjustment to be done together. This is the idea the client was most interested in--an internal friction pad or tooth is spring-loaded to hold the neck in place wherever it is released. The desktop is attached to the neck at a fixed angle, but the hollow prism shape of the base allows the top to both be moved vertically and tilted at the same time.
#7. The lamp desk; a fun idea that combines the desk function with existing furniture. An important characteristic of the desk was to be its minimalism--it is for people who do not want a full desk. This whimsically tree-like design adds desk functionality to a lamp with a heavy base; when sitting on the couch or lying in bed, you can swing the desk leaf to you and put your laptop on it. The two smaller leaves can be used for phone, peripherals, or normal end-table items like keys and books.