Too hot to handle
Laptop computers generate a lot of heat, and the more insulated or enclosed the environment, the hotter it gets. So if you're using your notebook computer on a couch, carpet, or even a desk or your lap, the heat will stay contained and make the computer hotter. This can, in turn, make the computer slower as it scales down CPU usage to draw less power; louder as the fans kick into high gear to get the hot air out; and less comfortable as the system makes your legs sweat and your fingers burn.
Antec's Web site claims that laptop systems can crash if they get too hot. While this is true, rarely do notebook systems reach the kind of temperatures necessary to crash. You'd have to be in a really hot place, or the computer would have to be well insulated, and chances are, you the user would be too uncomfortable to continue using the computer before it overheated and shut down or crashed.
The Antec Notebook Cooler weighs about a pound and a half, and measures 13" long by 11.2" wide by 0.82" high. Even though my Acer computer is larger than the pad, there were no problems with it.
There's nothing to assemble or maintain with the Antec Notebook Cooler -- you just take it out of the box and use it. There are four large rubber pads on the bottom of the device to make it resistant to slipping on smooth surfaces. Laptop computers also have rubber feet, so the computer stays as solidly on top of the Notebook Cooler as it would on any aluminum surface (which is to say, it won't slip off).
There are vents on the bottom of the Notebook Cooler on the right side and in the back. Although there is not a great deal of air pressure running through the device, it seems to suck air in through the right-side vent and exhaust air out through the rear. You can of course use the Notebook Cooler backwards -- with the vents pointing toward you instead of away -- but you'll have warm air blowing on you.
The power cord is a foot and a half long, and connects to the fans through a DC jack on the left side of the pad. If you have USB jacks on the left side or back of your computer, the cord will reach. If they're on the right side, you'll have to run the cord under the pad. If you only have front USB, the cord will usually fit, although it can get tight if the USB jack is far to the right. The cord is stored in a compartment underneath the pad, accessible by a flat door. I found it difficult to get the cord in and out of the storage space without a hassle.
A fan speed switch moves between a "low" and "high" setting. Since the Notebook Cooler hardly makes any noise, the switch is not really necessary and you'll probably end up leaving it on the high setting and never touching it again.
The two double ball bearing 70mm fans together consume about 2 watts of electricity on the "high" setting. That's not much, but it will still reduce the amount of time you can use the computer while on the battery.
Using the Antec Notebook Cooler
The first thing I noticed about the Notebook Cooler is that it doesn't have to be on to work reasonably well. If you don't plug it in and just use it as a heatsink, it does its job nicely and saves some battery power in the process. I can't help but wonder why notebook computer manufacturers don't build their machines with something like the Antec Notebook Cooler built in on the bottom.
This product was obviously designed to be used mostly on the top of a table, desk, or counter, but it also works quite well on the user's lap. I found that using my notebook computer was much more comfortable when using the Notebook Cooler, not just because it didn't make my legs sweat, but because it made typing easier. The pad raises the computer up by about an inch, which puts a little less strain on wrists that should never be at angles when typing.
The Notebook Cooler is now standard equipment for me, and it goes wherever my notebook computer goes. If I didn't need to access the panels on the underside of the computer from time to time, I'd glue the Notebook Cooler in place.
Update: I have since used the Antec Notebook Cooler on really large laptop computers that don't have rubber feet that reach the bottom of the cooler. The result is that the metal grating on top of the notebook cooler can grind down the underside of a laptop computer. This is mostly cosmetic damage as far as I can tell, but some people might be really upset by that. If you have a really big notebook computer, you may need to install some kind of rubber spacers on the bottom of your machine, or use the Targus Notebook Chill Mat instead.
Models, pricing, and availability
There are two models: the standard and the Pearl edition. One is black and silver, the other is beige and silver, but other than that there aren't any differences in design.
You can expect to find the Antec Notebook Cooler for around U.S. $40, although some retailers advertise it for less than $30. Both color models seem to be widely available, according to a Froogle search.
|Device||Notebook computer cooling solution|
|Device support||Any notebook computer of any size|
|Market||Laptop computer users|
|Price (retail)||US ~$40 Buy it from Amazon.com|
|Product Web site||Click here|