Folding tray tables, more commonly known as TV tray tables, are one of the most versatile pieces of furniture to have around the house. They can be used as lamp stands, laptop holders, and most importantly, a sturdy spot to hold your dinner plate while you watch your favorite show after work. We recently spent several days reviewing over 30 different folding table sets, and after comparing factors like quality, stability, and size, we think the best TV tray tables for any household is the Winsome Wood TV Tray Set. Their oversized table top gives you a serious amount of surface area to hold food and drinks, and their walnut finish looks nice in any living room setting. Article Summary
What better way to relax after work than to enjoy your favorite meal while watching your favorite show? TV tray tables were born as an answer to this common evening phenomenon. Before them, you could either put a plate in your lap or find a small handheld tray and do pretty much the same thing, but the issue with this is that your plate wasn’t on a stable platform, often making you focus more on balancing the plate than watching TV. Raise your hand if you’ve ever accidentally flipped your fresh plate of food all over yourself, the couch, or the floor!
This is why we now have foldable tables that don’t have this problem. The whole thing sits firmly on the ground, thus allowing you to set your plate down without any risks. Believe it or not, this rather simple product has actually spawned a pretty competitive environment. What is most interesting is that a good majority of brands in the industry use the same folding and storage principle. The only thing that truly changes when you go from brand to brand, is the finish and the design of the trays. Of course, there are some modern trays which change the dynamics and nature of the original design quite a bit, but those are not applicable to the majority of the user base.
As true post-work relaxation advocates, we wanted to find the best TV tray tables so we could enjoy our dinner and nighttime shows without the worry of spilled food or drinks. Our top factors in finding good tables were stability and size of the tray. After all, this is what matters most, right? Naturally, the next thing we considered was the overall quality of the trays and whether they had any additional features to offer (built-in drink holders, anyone?). Once we had checked out roughly 30 different table sets, the three products below are what won us over most.
The best TV tray table set
Winsome is one of the more popular brands in the world of folding dinner tables. While they offer a few fancier sets, their simple Wood TV Tray Set is at the top of the list if you want the best TV tray tables. With an over-sized table top and a nice walnut finish, these foldable tables aren’t just a favorite with us – they’re also the most popular selling set online among consumers.
Like many others, this set comes with four trays tables and a holder where you can store them neatly and securely. Now, the whole idea is to have a place where you can tuck away the trays in a way that doesn’t take too much space. Even so, you will need to dedicate some room for the tray holder. There’s no way around it, and the alternative is definitely not worth it.
One of this set’s biggest benefits is its extra-large table tops – these are 23.5″ x 15.75″ surfaces! That is enough space for your main course, some side dishes, and a drink. Most TV tray tables are around 20″ in width, so the extra few inches really make a nice difference.
Besides an over-sized surface, you are probably wondering what makes Winsome’s set so special that it has found itself at the top of our list? The answer is simple – quality. This set is made of pretty decent wood to begin with. One of the biggest issues with TV tray sets is that a good number of brands tends to cheap out on the wood they use. The result is a tray that gives a false sense of security until you put something heavy on it. Winsome’s set doesn’t have that problem. On the contrary, even though it features the very same design like most other sets out there, its legs can actually support a decent amount of weight.
On top of being pretty stable and secure, Winsome’s Wood set also looks pretty sweet. Unlike a majority of its competition, Winsome went with a dark walnut wood stain as their choice of finish. Most other sets will come with a natural finish that might fit in some interior designs well, but a darker stained wood will always be much more flexible in terms of design.
Last but not least, we have to mention the value. These tables are not something you want to spend too much money on. On the other hand, if you cheap out, you will eventually run into problems. The last thing you want to happen to you is a food-related mishap that leaves a whole lot of mess you will have to clean up. In that case, not only have you created an unnecessary cleanup chore, but you also ruined your food.
To sum it all up, Winsome’s Wood TV Tray Set offers what can be described as a perfect balance of price, quality, and performance. In this market, those three things are the only factor that separates successful products from flops.
A fancier set with faux marble tops
The aesthetic aspect of TV tray tables is a very interesting one. We have already defined that different brands don’t have much else to use in order to make their product more attractive other than its finish and choice of materials. While most have stuck with a simple combination of wood and some kind of traditional finish, there are some out there who gave themselves a lot more freedom. Linon Home Décor’s Tray Table Set describes this middle ground rather well, landing it as our runner-up to Winsome’s set.
The Linon folks went with an even more simplified version of the original design and have chosen a very interesting selection of materials. Instead of designing just another plain wood set, they spiced things up by going with a brown faux marble top over dark wooden legs. Needless to say, the aesthetic difference compared to a regular set is quite significant. Even if it is not real marble, the mere aesthetic benefit this finish brings is pretty decent.
Dimensions of this set are a bit smaller than those of the Winsome wooden set we talked about earlier. You are looking at a 19″ x 15.75″ surface. Even though it is obviously smaller, you can still fit pretty much everything you need on top of one of these. The main difference would be the lack of rounded corners, which may or may not prove to be hazardous if you have smaller kids.
Aside from the aesthetic difference, Linon Home Decor tray table set is more or less similar to the Winsome we just talked about earlier. Both sets feature the same construction, both come with a tray stand designed for storage when tables are not in use. The main reason why we decided to go with the Winsome set as our number one pick is the fact that it is much more compatible with your average interior. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to personal preference.
One good thing that came out of sharing the same design across the board is the reduction of cost. Any difference in price comes down to the choice of materials, or in this case, the choice of a finish. Linon Home Decor’s Tray Table Set comes in a very similar price range as the Winsome model from earlier. In fact, the difference is pretty insignificant, so if you prefer the faux marble appearance over the walnut wood, these would be worth your while.
A classic natural wood set
The last set we want to show you is considered to be the benchmark. If anyone mentions a folding table for eating and watching TV, the Essential Home TV Tray Set is what most people will instantly imagine. The thing about these classic sets is that they are a no thrills package. In other words, you get a tray table in its most basic form. Being the default option, we have decided to put in third place, even though it is every bit as good as the previous two entries on our list. With that said, a standard set such as this one often tends to be the most popular one on the market.
Just like the previous sets we have talked about, this one comes with four trays and a stand. On a side note, one of the main issues with these products has to do with the policy behind their creation. Most brands will take a median family as an example of their target user base, which just so happens to translate into two adults and two kids at best. In reality, families which have more than four family members are left to figure out a solution for that fifth person who is left without a TV tray. Why are mentioning this? Well, the more specific and niche you go with the type of table, harder it is to find that fifth table that actually matches the rest of the set. On the other hand, when you are dealing with a set as average as this one, you can pretty much take another table from just about any set out there, and you will solve this irritating issue.
In terms of design and dimensions, we are looking at a simple table top with rounded edges. The entire thing features a natural finish. Dimensions of the table top are 19″ x 15″, which is again more than plenty of room to set down even one of those more complicated meals. This is also where the build quality becomes a real concern. There will always be questionable brands out there, but Essential Home is not one of them. This set of trays are pretty rugged, although just how strong they are going to be depends mostly on you as there is some assembly required.
The Essential Home set is a great budget option for those who aren’t all that interested in fancy designs or finishes. Also, if you have a larger family which puts you in a position that you need more of these trays but don’t want to pay for another complete package, you are in luck. Aside from being able to mix and match different brands and models which feature the same finish, your chances of finding retail TV sets which allow you to purchase only one or more table sets are much higher. This variant of a TV tray has been around in one shape or another for decades. Check out the Essential Homes set here if you like the more classic look.
Other table sets worth mentioning
Now that we have gone over our top picks, let’s check out other great TV tables which didn’t make our shortlist, but are still very much a good choice. In this section, we will show you some less common designs and talk about their benefits.
Just because they have been invented rather recently doesn’t have to mean that TV tray sets need to look bland and lifeless. The Bombay Snack Table Set is designed for those who insists on matching their furniture, with that furniture being of the vintage variety. You get the standard four tables with a stand, while every element of this set is made of hardwood. Table tops on these trays feature a unique design, as well as ebony finish.
Remember how we said that there are some more advanced designs out there these days? Well, the Carolina Cottage Madison Nesting Table is one such design. Instead of using the scissor type mechanism to fold and unfold the table, these come with a C-shaped metal frame. The benefit of this design is that you can tuck the tray next to your recliner, sofa or bed. On the other hand, these take a lot more room since they are simply not foldable in any way, shape or form. Overall, Carolina Cottage Madison is a great design that works well in modern interiors.
Cape Craftsman’s Set is another awesome unconventional TV tray set that features a more lively design. Unlike the Bombay we have just mentioned, Cape Craftsman retains that classic shape of the tray itself. However, each of the four trays in the set features a unique Tuscan wine themed design. In terms of build quality and overall durability, these are just a bit ahead of your average set of tables. Cape Craftsman aimed this model at those who like detailed work and character.
Things to consider before buying
Choosing the best TV tray tables for your living room will depend largely on a number of factors which are different from family to family. Some people simply don’t care about interior design, and will hence ignore the aesthetic aspect of the trays as long as they are durable. On the other hand, you will have those who will go for a cheaper, less reliable set just because it fits better with their furniture. In order to avoid making some mistakes that you’ll regret later, let’s talk about some things you should consider before buying.
Is matching furniture something that concerns you in any way? If so, make sure that you find a set that works well with more than one piece of furniture in your house. This way you are supporting a pre-existing theme rather than one single piece of furniture. Also, keep in mind that some sets might be darker/lighter in person than they are on a picture.
Even though they were originally mean to serve as a portable dining table, TV tray sets can serve a number of different applications. They can be a stand for your laptop or other electronics. Essentially, you can use them to support anything that you need to have available at a moment’s notice as you relax. The key here is to know how good the tray table is. The last thing you want to do is overload the tray thus causing damage to the tray itself and whatever was on it.
The height of the table top is one thing many people tend to disregard completely. The truth is that this is one of the most important metrics. The vast majority of TV trays comes with the same height. Some even allow you to adjust the height, which is definitely a feature worth looking into. The key here is to know how high/low the tray table is going to be relative to your favorite chair or sofa. If you make a wrong estimate in this portion of the research, you will end up with a tray table that is more or less useless, so keep that in mind.
One good thing about TV trays is that most of them are reliable. Due to their simple and effective design, you will have to try very hard to destroy one. That is, as long as you are using it within its original spectrum of applications. In other words, even the cheapest table sets are going to be reliable. Any extra money you are investing into these is going to go to nonessential details. We are talking various engravings and similar little things that only boost the aesthetic value of the tray table.
Wrapping it up
Over the past several decades, TV tray tables have shown to be a must-have component of just about every home in the United States. Their popularity quickly outgrew their intended use, so these days you can see them being used for a whole variety of different tasks. Most of these don’t even have anything to do with eating in front of your TV. Whether or not you want a set for your entire family, or you are simply looking for a way to eat comfortably while watching your TV, tray tables are a great tool to have around the house whenever you might need them. We decided to limit our top recommendations to neutral designs which resonate well with most of the potential users. With that said, have a look around at different retailers and figure out which look is most appealing to your personal taste.