Nerdytec’s Couchmaster Cycon is a USB-powered lapboard propped up by a pair of comfy memory foam cushions. As the name implies, it’s meant to be a couch-based PC gaming solution. I’ve been using it in my hospital bed for six months. They should call it the Bedmaster. Maybe not.
Due to me being paralysed from the chest down and certain medical complications tied to that condition, I spend a lot of time in a hospital bed. Most of my time, really. Unless I have an appointment, I get into my wheelchair maybe once or twice a week. The rest of the time I am in an electric hospital bed set up in my living room. The back and legs raise and lower. It’s got a mattress with a motor that shifts my body about using air pressure.
It does not have a stable gaming surface. I have a wheeled table that goes over the bed that I use for work. It’s got all three of my consoles, controllers, keyboard, trackball, and a dual stand holding my laptop and a 27-inch 4K monitor. It’s a mess of cables, Lego bits, batteries, and other debris. It makes me anxious. So when I want to just relax and do some recreational gaming, I push the table away and use the $260 Couchmaster Cycon.
The Couchmaster Cycon is a simple and convenient piece of kit. The top is a 83 centimetre wide surface with plenty of room for a mouse and full-size keyboard. Inside the board, connected to my computer via a 4.88 m USB cable, is a four-port USB hub. The cables for my trackball, USB headset, and whichever keyboard I am using at the time connect inside the unit, hidden beneath a pair of screwed-in panels when in use. The fourth USB port is on the topside of the panel, for whatever else I might need to plug in.
The bottom of the Couchmaster is a pair of chunky memory foam cushions. These foam monoliths form the left and right base of the unit. The board simply rests across the front of the cushions, with arms resting on the back. The left side (or right side, depending on your preference) sports an accessory pouch for storing things like random Lego bits, small Transformers, TV remotes, and bits of candy. Mmmm.
It seems like this combination wouldn’t be stable, and yet it works. The package comes with velcro, but that’s for securing your keyboard to the board, not the board to the foam bases. It’s super-stable just the way it is. A strong kick might send the top flying, but kicking is no longer my strong suit.
There are downsides to the Couchmaster Cycon’s design. The memory foam bases are 20 centimetres tall and that’s it. There is no adjusting the height. The USB hub is not powered, so it can be overwhelmed by power-hungry devices, requiring an AC adaptor to make up the difference.
For me, in my particular situation, the downsides are balanced by the convenience of the Couchmaster Cycon. I can pull the top right off whenever I need to. Sometimes I move the table and leave the cushions, using them as armrests. And dammit, it’s nice to push away my cluttered-arse over-bed table and just get back to basics for a bit. Mouse, keyboard, snacks, done.
It’s probably nice if you sit on a couch as well.