Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Hot Notebooks are a Recipe for Disaster!

Initially, I intended to post this on my main site of 'Notes from Freyashawk' but it is so far removed from any of my usual topics that I decided to award it a page of its own. It may be laughable to imagine that I would dispense 'technical advice' to any one, but this is rather an important issue with respect to any Notebook.

Heat can destroy computers. In the 'old days' when computers were enormous and required a room of their own, that room was air-conditioned even if the rest of the building had to deal with natural temperatures. When the PC became a reality, manufacturers continued to advise buyers to keep the room in which they were housed at an even cool temperature.

With the advent of 'laptops', everything changed to some extent. One carried these portable devices wherever one traveled, through intense heat and cold. Not being in control of the world's temperatures, any one using a laptop outside the home basically had to pray to Nature to be kind.

Fair enough, but there's more to consider. I do not believe it was consumers who coined the term 'Laptop' but rather the makers. This type of portable computer was marketed as a system that could be placed and used on the buyer's lap instead of requiring a desk or table.

Now, in 2008, the word 'laptop' has been erased from the advertising world. Why did this occur? Is it simply the usual marketing trend that seeks fresh vocabulary each season? Not at all. On the contrary, the definition of a portable computer as a 'laptop' was a prescription for disaster.

When placed on any soft surface, a computer can overheat quickly. Furthermore, any fabric can be sucked into the inner workings of the device by the fan, causing blockage.

To combat this, retail outlets sell cooling 'pads'. Unfortunately, many of these have proven to be at the root of the destruction of the 'laptops' they claim to serve. As time passes, the hard outer shell of the pad softens and ultimately is destroyed. The material beneath it then is no better than any other 'fabric' and indeed can be worse as it never was designed to exist in the light of day. On more than one occasion, 'notebook' owners have discovered that the reason their machines ceased to function was because the inner fabric of the cooling pads they purchased at places like Circuit City and Best Buy were sucked into the computer by the fan, bringing the notebook's life effectively to an untimely end.

To add injury to insult, this sort of damage is not covered by basic notebook warranties as it has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual notebook.

Note that this problem occurs only as the pad becomes worn and the outer coating is worn away. Even so, that never could occur with a natural hard surface.

The 'laptop' has become a 'notebook' to prevent computer manufacturers from claims of misrepresentation. Even so, most users would like to have the capability of using it in the same way as they once were encouraged to believe they could use it: on the lap.

The best solution, at least for users at home, may be a 'tempered glass cutting board'. If you are not the sort of individual who is prone to accidents and are in no danger of breaking the glass, it acts as a natural conductor, drawing the heat generated by the laptop away from the centre.

The tempered glass cutting board solution was suggested to me by an expert who has been forced to deal with countless ruined 'laptops' as part of his job description.
He uses one himself at home. The only problem with the cutting board is its weight. Carrying it with a notebook in a bag as one travels may not be the most desirable course of action. On the other hand, it does not weigh THAT much. Using it on the lap does not increase the pressure of the weight of the notebook in any significant fashion. Furthermore, it is cool and smooth to the touch, rather more pleasant than any other protective surface might be.

Tempered glass cutting boards are sold in many different designs. They can be extremely inexpensive, unless one opts for a 'designer' model. One is not restricted to designs consisting of kitchen implements, vegetables or wine bottles. Designs range from classical 'black marble' and 'stained glass' to more whimsical
depictions of pets.

I actually considered a genuine marble tile briefly, but the cost would be significantly greater if cut to order in the size needed. Furthermore, marble would be heavier in weight. The tempered glass equivalent really does resemble black marble and is not as fragile as the word 'glass' might suggest. The cutting boards are lightweight but fairly thick, created to withstand considerable pressure from knife-work in the kitchen!

Incidentally, a glass cutting board is a perfect surface for a mouse, if one chooses to use one with a notebook. Unfortunately, the 'standard' size for a tempered glass cutting board appears to be 15", making it perfect for most notebooks/laptops but leaving very little space for anything else to rest on its surface.

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