Gadgets stands are usually begrudging buys: If your gadget needs a stand, it probably should've come with one; if it could just sorta use one, it's hard to justify the cost. The solution? Make your own damn stand, for nothing.
Gadgets stands, from iPods and eBook readers to HDTVs and laptops, are some of the most accessible DIY projects out there—no circuit diagrams, static bracelets or soldering irons here, just cheap, useful, approachable projects. Here are a few of the best.
Laptops Why you want one: It's easier on your wrists, keeps your notebook cool (especially low-to-the-ground models, like MacBooks), and can give you some space to stow accessories. Taller units make watching TV less painful.
The ring binder: Accomplish all of the above goals with your kid's leftover school supplies, or a $5 trip to Officeworks. Poke holes for ventilation, thread various wires to make it more like a full-service laptop dock, and slide peripherals underneath for maximum convenience. Bonus feature: plenty of available ring sizes, binder-stuffing adjusts your viewing angle.
The cardboard box: Download the instructions, print them out, cut up a box, and slide it together. Hey presto! Laptop home theatre. Bonus feature: it's recyclable.
The coat hanger: Like the cardboard box, except with industrial-chic styling, and some semblance of adjustability. It looks a little precarious, but hanger devotees assure us: it's sturdy(ish). Bonus feature: the higher elevation matches well with external monitors.
iPod/iPhone Why you want one: Aside from often doubling as a charging dock, iPod stands make the hunched-over, arms-out process of video-viewing a little more bearable. With a good Twitter app, news aggregator or music streaming service, or just the native media interface, it can also let you use an iPod Touch or iPhone as a quasi secondary display.
The binder clip: Devised for older iPods, the binder clip is timeless, unless Apple someday moves away from the dock connector. Bonus feature: if you feel this is too simple, you can make a much more complicated one out of, like, 20 clips.
The paperclip: Just as simple as the binder clip, but in landscape. Plus, you might not have binder clips laying around; you do have paperclips. Bonus feature: crudely adjustable.
The business card: You just need a spare business card, a pen, a ruler and the ability to fold paper for this one. Bonus feature: It's utterly disposable.
The Kindle Why you want one: For reading?
The Bookend: Book accessories past a future, living together in peace. This hardly qualifies as DIY, actually, since you're just bending a metal bookend a little bit. Bonus feature: it's probably tougher than your Kindle.
HDTVs Why you want one: Because a having TV stand or mount is a given, and they universally cost too much.
The Easel: It should go without saying: get a strong easel for this one, not some flimsy preschool toss-out. But it's clever, for smaller sets, and adjustable.
The Diner Table: A little more involved than the easel hack, but much more gratifying. Discarded restaurant tables + crappy old desks and/or coffee tables = a fun afternoon of beginner-level woodworking and a place for your HDTV to live, in (some kind of) style. Bonus feature: may smell like bacon, or cigarette smoke.