Laptops are pretty self-contained by definition, but that doesn't mean there's not a whole industry built around aftermarket accessories.
Standivarius Aero laptop stand
One of the most clever laptop stands we've run across, the ultrathin Standivarius Aero is only 2.5mm thick and made of an ultralight aluminum alloy composite. Designed by a company in Romania, the folding stand uses small, removable adhesive squares to attach to the bottom of your laptop, allowing you to keep it attached to the system and just fold out its kickstand when needed.
The stand itself is very thin, and largely unnoticeable when attached, but you'll have to make sure it fits your laptop's footprint (there are two sizes available) and that you don't mind having it hitch a semi-permanent ride on the laptop's bottom panel.
If you need a laptop stand that's a little more hefty, there's always the LapDawg line. The one we tried is called the Pug, and it's literally a mini table for your laptop, complete with a USB-powered fan, cup holder, and felt mousepad surface.
The design reminded us of a vintage TV tray, and you can use the Pug flat on your lap, with the legs half folded out (about 13 inches high), or with the legs fully extended (about 19 inches high).
No matter how careful you are, a certain amount of debris is going to end up stuck in your laptop keyboard. Sure, you could always flip the laptop upside down and bang on it, but that's not going to get everything out, and it's kinda gross.
Cyber Clean is one of those ubiquitous products one sees sitting on store shelves without ever giving it much thought. It's essentially a ball of fluorescent green goo that you mash into a keyboard or any similar device (obviously make sure it's turned off first), and the tacky surface picks up dirt and grime. It costs a few bucks for a small pouch, or up to $49 for a giant tub.
You're supposed to be able to literally fold the dirt and debris back into the mass and use the glob over and over again until it loses its bright green color--but that sounds a little icky. We think of it as a single-use item.
Getting a video signal from a laptop to a big-screen TV isn't hard, but doing it easily, quickly, and for any kind of content can be a hassle. You could plug the laptop's video output directly in, but that tethers the laptop to the TV. Or use Intel's Wireless Display, but that's only available in a handful of laptops, has significant lag, and doesn't transmit DVD or Blu-ray content. There are also a ton of media streamers, including the Xbox 360, but they're finicky to set up, and have a whole set of content and file type restrictions.
We're more partial to the new breed of wireless HDMI transmitters, including the HP Wireless TV Connect and the similar Asus WiCast. Both have two small router-size boxes (and both run $199). One connects to your laptop's HDMI output, the other to the TV's HDMI input. Add power (USB for the transmitter, A/C for the receiver), and you're good to go.
While it's a little clunky looking, the system turns your TV into a wireless second monitor, and streams Blu-ray, games, or anything else that can play on your laptop.
Getting audio out of a laptop can be a hassle, unless you're connecting to a TV via HDMI, or using a pair of headphones or speakers right next to the laptop. Astro makes all kinds of cool audio gear for gamers, but we've found the $99 wireless Mixamp 5.8 to be a very handy all-around audio transmitter with multiple uses.
Want to connect to a stereo in the next room? Take the headphone out from your laptop (or an optical out if your laptop has that) and connect it to the palm-size transmitter. Then plug the smaller receiver into your speakers, again via a one-eighth-inch audio cable. There's even a large volume wheel on the receiver, and the system supports 7.1 audio and gaming headsets.