Burney’s Legal Tech Reviews: Antec Notebook Cooler

Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com’s Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal technology questions .

Heat can be your laptop’s worst enemy. As we demand more power and more functionality, laptop computers become little heat factories that belch out puffs of hot air and scald the laps they sit on. Not only that, but heat buildup can create problems internally even to the point of the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

Laptop manufacturers compensate for these issues by installing fans inside the computers and placing rubber feet on the bottom of laptops to raise them up so that air can circulate around the whole unit. But when that’s not enough to help you keep a cool head, you might need a little something extra.

The Notebook Cooler from Antec Inc. is an elegant, oddly-shaped platform on which you can set your laptop computer. The surface of the Antec Notebook Cooler is made of aluminum which is a great heat conductor. That surface is complimented by two medium-sized fans inside the Notebook Cooler that whir heat away from your laptop.

I’m not going to say that my laptop never got hot while I used the Notebook Cooler, but I could definitely discern a difference. The main thing I noticed was that my laptop’s internal fan didn’t kick on as much as it did without the Cooler in place. And while I didn’t take an official measurement or anything, I felt the general performance of my laptop in launching and switching between applications was a little smoother and more responsive.

A Little Big, but Definitely Cool

The one thing I really didn’t like so much was that the Antec Notebook Cooler raised my laptop off the desk a little bit. The whole unit is 0.85 inches high which means that it acts like a booster chair for your laptop. The only real annoying thing about this is that I’m used to typing on my laptop at one level, and adding the Cooler made my hands stretch in a different and slightly uncomfortable way.

On the flip side, if you’ve ever had trouble plugging in peripherals to your laptop because the plugs were too close to the desk, then placing your laptop on top of the Cooler will certainly give you plenty of room to play with.

The Notebook Cooler travels very well. It is 13” x 11.2” which is about the footprint of a normal-sized laptop. It only weighs 1.6 pounds which means it really doesn’t add any weight to your bag. I was amazed at how light it was.

One of the slickest features of the Notebook Cooler is that it doesn’t need an external power supply – which means that’s one less that you have to carry with you. The Notebook Cooler will run off the power of your laptop’s USB port. The bottom of the Cooler has a small compartment that houses the USB power cord. You simply pop it out, plug in one end to the Cooler, and the other end to a free USB port.

Even better, the USB plug of the Notebook Cooler is a pass-through plug. That means that you don’t have to worry about taking up a USB slot because you can plug another item into the Notebook Cooler’s plug. The only caution here is that since the Notebook Cooler is sucking up some power from the USB slot, you are slightly limited in what you can plug into the pass-through slot. The instruction guide that comes with the Cooler explains in a little more detail.

Whispering Pines

The Notebook Cooler features an on-off switch so you don’t have to unplug the unit to get it to stop. I was pleasantly surprise at how quiet the Cooler operated. I wasn’t expecting a jet engine, but I do know how much noise a couple of fans can generate. The two fans in the Cooler were whisper quiet although they get much louder if you lift or tilt the laptop off the surface.

The Notebook Cooler is not something that you’re going to put on your lap. It’s designed to sit on top of a desk or hard surface and channel hot air away from your laptop and into the air. Putting the unit on your lap would probably block the operation of the fans which would render the Cooler useless. But for those of you that use your laptop all day long on top of a desk, the Antec Notebook Cooler is an easy way to ensure a cooler computing experience.

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