Maybe I am behind the times, but I had pretty good luck making a large table and covering the top and edges with laminate. This Old House has a fairly good (albeit thinly explained) video that I recommend if you are contemplating doing some laminate.
I would add these tips/clarifications: (1) Use solvent-based contact cement, not latex type; (2) Absolutely use the trick where you space apart the two surfaces with dowels or thin wood in order to position the top before adhering; (3) The way you trim the laminate is to use a special router blade with a little wheel on the bottom - pay the money for a quality bit, and don't buy one with a too-long cutting blade; (4) Watch out that you don't chip off the ends of the edge laminate when your router is trimming the top - make sure the *edge* laminate is trimmed very close on the ends before you trim the top.
This was my first time ever applying laminate, and I highly recommend you consider it as a desk/working surface. Lowe's (not HD)has a good selection to order from. Here is my final product