on the cheap and sleazy side (www.cheapandsleazy.net)

By G.D. Warner

On The Cool Side

A Cheap (and Sleazy) Way to Keep Your Laptop Cool

A few weeks ago, a woman named Heidi, one of the denizens of the Phoenix Theory forum, asked about cheap solutions to cooling off a hot laptop. I remembered that Gemini Girl Charity Chainus had a rather unique solution, so I brought my camera to class and took a few pictures ... and did a little research along the way.

Heidi, this one's for you!


Cheap and Sleazy Coolness

How Charity Achieves Coolness.

Hot Stuff

You've read the stories, I'm sure: "Woman Sues Computer Company When Burned by Laptop," or "Computer Manufacturer Recalls Laptops Due to Heat Problems" ... or, perhaps, you've experienced a heat problem yourself -- no, not the ol' "burned lap" syndrome. I'm talking about the problem where your laptop gets so hot, it just shuts itself off.

Has that happened to anyone?

Well, whether it has or not, those (manufactured -- somewhat) headlines should indicate to you that there is a problem with heat in laptops ... but what to do about it, you ask?

Well, there are lots of ways to combat heat in laptops; in fact, the new Apple MacBooks run so hot that Apple no longer calls them "laptops" (they call them "notebooks" instead) ... so the guys over at Low End Mac posted an article with seven different products designed to keep your laptop cool... then they posted a follow-up article with a few cheap solutions as well.

But, since this site is aimed at Starving Students o' Steno, I thought it would be better to share a Cheap and Sleazy solution, thanks to my classmate, Gemini Girl Charity Chainus ... but don't let that stop you from reading the Low End Mac piece ... who knows? You just might find a good deal on an iPod ...!

No, not This iPod ...!

Stuff You'll Need

To achieve Coolness like Charity's, you'll need a few items:

I'm sure you already have a laptop ... but if you don't, take a look at The Good Stuff for a few pointers on what to buy ... and what to avoid.

You can probably pick up the mesh pad at any grocery store (ask the Produce ninja).

The bookstand will be a bit more difficult ... but any large bookstore or office supply store should have one ... but before you run out to get one, take a good look at this:

The Foldy, Bendy, Bookstand

The Foldy, Bendy Bookstand (Note the Hinges)

This is the bookstand we were given in Theory; it's used to hold up our theory books.

It can also be used to hold your Note Buddy, as pointed out by the scholarship winner (and recently unflogged) Erin O'Connor.

Update (10FEB09)

It took some doing, but I *finally* found a source for the foldy, bendy bookstand. You can get one here. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it looks like G is the one you want.

As you can see from that first picture, the bookstand sits on the mesh pad (keeps things from moving, you see ....). What might not be so readily apparent is the way the bookstand is folded ... so feast your squinties -- er, take a look at this shot:

The Foldy, Bendy Bookstand in the Proper Position

The Foldy, Bendy Bookstand in the Proper Postion

So. Plop down the mesh pad, bend the Foldy, Bendy Bookstand to look like the above picture, and place your laptop on the bookstand, like so:

Coolness (on the Cheap and Sleazy Side)

Coolness (on the Cheap and Sleazy Side)

Notice how the cables fit under the bookstand? This is a Good Thing ... because sure as a hot laptop can burn your lap, it can also melt your power cords, your USB-serial adapter caable, and your realtime cable.

We Have Achieved Coolness.

In the words of Parker Lewis, "We Have Achieved Coolness."

It probably goes without saying that the blue blob there is the afore-mentioned USB-serial adapter ... but that's not going to stop me from mentioning it.

Well. There you have it: One cool-running laptop, with total investment somewhat less than $5.00 ... unless you count the laptop.

Thanks, Charity (and you're welcome, Heidi ...)!

Update (10FEB09)

Student Laura Boyd, a regular reader of ol' Cheap and Sleazy, sent me an e-mail back in September of last year (I'm so embarrassed). She told me about a commercial solution to the Coolness Equation.

Laura wrote:

You described on Cheapandsleazy a frugal laptop-cooling apparatus. I thought you might like to glance at another such, which is primarily for ergonomic travel needs:

The Aviator Laptop Stand

I've been using it and am crazy about the concept. They don't emphasize this, but it's a perfect low-tech way to prevent overheating.

To illustrate how strong this gadget is, they show an SUV on top of it. ("Don't try this at home"). It's not free but definitely cheaper and more multi-purpose than most gadgets.

So there you have it ... it's not free, but if you can't find the Bendy, Foldy bookstand (and have an extra $20 bucks in your pocket), you not only have an ergonomic laptop stand, but you also have a cooling system for your laptop!

Thanks, Laura!

Oh, I just noticed that I captured my Starbucks drink in that last picture! Sorry about that (sure miss those Chocolate Brownie Frappuccinos ....).