Lately, I’ve been getting more and more comfy when I’m using my Chromebook. One of my favorite things to do is use it while I’m sitting in a comfy chair at the Starbucks nearest to my house, or just when I’m catching up on my DVR shows and getting some much needed R&R on the ol’ couch.
Like every notebook, after an extended period of using the Chromebook on my lap, I start to notice it’s a bit warmer than I’d prefer in an imagined utopian world. It’s nothing compared to, say, a Macbook Pro with its notorious heat problems, and definitely not as bad as an Alienware gaming laptop (you know, the ones whose keyboards were known to spontaneously melt a few years back). Still, if you’re using a laptop on any non-conducting surface that decreases air circulation (say, a lap), things can get heated there after a while — and not in the usual good way.
USB-powered notebook coolers, which we reviewed for the Chromebook a short while back, are one of the most effective ways to cool down a warm Chromebook. However, they are clearly not intended to be placed on a lap, and are far more suited to long-term desk use. I repeat: “intended” and “suited” — I’ve seen my friends manage a rather interesting balancing act with notebook cooler holding the laptop all on top of their lap, and it is quite breathtaking. It’s not a very permanent-seeming solution, nor is it something I want to do in general when I’m on the couch especially with the often-sharp, often-metal edges that grace the hulls of some of the more efficient notebook cooling pads out there.
I may have found a solution, however, in the rather unconventional cooling pad known as the Thermapak Heatshift. While I’m immediately thrown off by the “fun” spelling of “pack” in the name, I’ve been researching this simple, unpowered “device” for about two weeks now, and, I have to admit, the science behind it seems solid. Basically, rather than using fans, it acts as a giant external “heat sink” for a laptop, with salt crystals (makes sense if you remember your molecular chemistry) inside that effectively absorb the heat the laptop is putting out. This method is, according to a lot of user reports, equally effective or more so than USB coolers. The outside is padded, perfect for using with your Chromebook on your lap or a soft surface like a bed, couch cushion, or pillow.
Another bonus to the Thermapak would be the increased battery life over using a normal notebook cooling pad. The advantage is two-fold, actually: obviously, it requires no USB power from the laptop (that means another free USB port too! Yipee!), and the built-in fans in the notebook will not need to spin as hard and fast, which also signficantly improves the battery life. For a Chromebook user, battery life is often quite high in terms of importance, since the laptop is so suited to on-the-go usage.
I saw during my bargain-hunting that Targus makes a very cheap imitation (I know writing it this way might seem like a quick assumption, but trust me, I’ve been researching this whole thermal cooling pad matter to death over the last two weeks — for myself as well as for you). The price of the Targus thermal pad (~$8) is much lower than the one from Thermapak (~$22), but I’ve read a ton of nightmare stories across forums and on the sites that sell it about the thing exploding and leaking whatever is inside it — some kind of heated white goo — all over laptops and in the worst cases, into the notebook vents and battery compartments. And I mean I’ve read a ton. For me, the peace of mind of the Thermapak not exploding all over the bottom of my shiny Samsung Series 5 Chromebook is more than worth it (the Thermapak obviously seems to have a better quality design that is also more effective at cooling as well). For what it’s worth, no pun intended, Amazon, as usual, has got the lowest price by far on the Thermapak Heatshift, even — surprisingly — lower than the usual dubious counterfeit Hong Kong sellers on e-bay.
For my lap’s sake, I’m thinking about ditching the old loud USB-powered fan cooler and taking the plunge into the high-tech thermal cooling pad world. What do you think of the Thermapak Heatshift pad? Read the reviews for yourself.