Should You Use A Laptop Cooling Pad?

Why Do Laptop Computers Get So Hot?

cooler master laptop cooling padMy laptop is definitely one of my favorite gadgets. It’s a nice powerful machine – an i5 – which lets me have computing power wherever I go. Even if you just want to move to a quieter room in the house from time to time, a laptop computer is a great solution.

One of the biggest problems with laptops these days, and one that my own laptop has suffered from in the past, is overheating. Laptops have been getting progressively more powerful over the last few years, and that means that more heat is generated.

However, there is no additional space available to match the increased power and heat. We all want small and light machines which we can take with us wherever we go, and that means that laptop fans are often smaller and less powerful than the cooling fans in an equivalently powered desktop.

So, more heat and less cooling capacity. It’s hardly surprising that some laptops get very hot in use – sometimes they can be very uncomfortable to use balanced on your knee.

It’s annoying and inconvenient that some laptops get too hot to live up to their name, but that’s not the worst of it. The thing is, most electronic devices die of old age; old age brought on by thermal ageing.

Simply put, the hotter the operating temperature of an electronic or electrical device, the shorter that its working life will be. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the relationship between working temperature and ageing is non-linear; a fairly modest increase in temperature can result in a significant reduction in the working life of an electronic device.

Thankfully, the converse is also true; a small reduction in the running temperature of your laptop can lead to a significant extension of its working life. And that is fairly simple to achieve.

Using A Laptop Cooling Pad

If you want your laptop to run cooler, then all you have to do is use a laptop cooling pad. Your laptop will be a lot more comfortable to use on your knee and it will last longer as well.

There are two main types of laptop cooling pads; passive cooling pads and active cooling pads. Either type will help your laptop to run cooler.

Passive Laptop Cooling Pads

logitech passive laptop cooling padPassive cooling pads provide a firm base for your laptop to sit on, but they have no fans. The firm surface will ensure that there is sufficient space beneath your laptop for cooling air to circulate and get into the laptop cooling intake vents.

The advantages of passive cooling pads are the fact that they draw no power and, since there are no fans, they generate no noise. Some designs are thin and light and suitable for transportation should you want to use them when you’re out and about.

They are simple, but effective and can make a significant difference to the running temperature of lower powered laptops. They can even be effective for high powered laptops which are not operated for long periods of time (say more than an hour) at any one sitting.

Active Laptop Cooling Pads

active laptop cooling pad airflowLarger, more powerful, laptops will probably benefit most from the use of an active laptop cooling pad. These usually have one or more fans which blows large amounts of additional cooling air into the laptops cooler intake vent. This drops the temperature of even powerful laptops quite a bit.

The large majority of laptops have their cooler intake vents located on the underside of the machine, so a cooling pad which blows air vertically upwards is appropriate.

There are a few (less than 10%) laptop designs which have the exhaust vents on the underside of the machine. Owners of this type of laptop will want to draw air away from the base of the machine.

You can tell where the cooler exhaust vents are by holding your hand near them. If you feel warm air blowing onto your hand then that is an exhaust vent.

You can also hold a piece of single ply tissue paper near to a vent. If it is drawn towards the laptop, then the vent is an intake. If it is blown away from the computer, then the vent is an exhaust vent.

The Benefits Of Laptop Cooling Pads

By helping your laptop to run cooler, laptop cooling pads will make it more comfortable for you to use and extend its working lifetime. The data which is stored on your laptop’s hard drive will also be safer – although you should still perform backups on a regular basis.

Laptop cooling pads cost just a few dollars. When you think about how much your laptop costs, and how inconvenient it would be for you were it to suffer a thermal failure. you can see just what a smart idea they are.

 

 

Decluttering The Home With An Ereader

Using An Ereader To Tidy Your Home

kindle paperwhite ereaderI doubt if anyone would classify an ereader as a household appliance, I know that I certainly wouldn’t. Nevertheless, I must say that since I switched to reading ebooks, my home is a whole lot less cluttered.

A tidier home wasn’t the main reason I switched, but it has certainly been a very welcome bonus feature. I’ve always been a keen reader, and I tend to plough through at least one book a week, sometimes (quite often really) more.

Needless to say, back when I was buying hardbacks and paperbacks, they soon mounted up. For some reason, I have an aversion to parting with books when I’m finished with them, especially the ones that I really enjoyed.

Every now and again I would have a bit of a clear out. I would collect the old books in a box and despatch them to friends and the charity shop.

However, it was a painful process for me – and there were always a few that I just couldn’t bear to part with. My little stockpile of books got larger and larger over time. There were piles of books all over the place.

Making The Switch To Ereaders

kindle voyage origami coverWhen ereaders first started to appear, around about 2006 (Sony PRS) and 2007 (Amazon Kindle), I just had to have one. Reading is one of my main hobbies, and at that time I was traveling a good deal, so having the ability to store thousands of books on a small, compact electronic reader was very appealing.

It certainly made packing my luggage a lot easier when I was traveling on business. I didn’t have to stuff a couple of paperbacks into my carry-on luggage to make sure that I would have something to read on the flight and whenever I arrived at my destination.

It also meant that I “lost” a lot fewer books. If I finished a book on a trip I would quite often leave it in the hotel – just to make packing for the return leg of the journey a little easier. Using an e-reader meant that I was able to re-read some books later – many of which would have been left on the bedside cabinet or on a plane if they were physical books – and no clutter!

Benefits Of Ereaders

I certainly wouldn’t suggest that anyone buy themselves an ereader just to make their home a bit tidier (but it is a very nice side effect). Ereaders offer many other advantages which many bookworms will love.

E-Ink Displays

The e-ink display is really excellent to read on. It’s much better than reading text on a backlit computer screen. Reading on a computer screen is fine for a short period of time, but it’s like trying to read when someone is shining a flashlight in your eyes. After a while, it will become tiring. You may get eye strain – and possibly even a bit of a headache.

That simply won’t happen with an ereader. Even the “lighted” readers like the Paperwhite and the Kobo Glo project the light onto the text rather than from behind it.

The e-ink displays of ereaders also use very little power, much less than a color LCD computer display. That’s because they only draw power when the page is being refreshed.

The end result is that an ereader will go for weeks before you need to charge the battery. Most tablet computers will last for just a few hours.

kindle voyage ereaderThe best ereader on the market right now is the Kindle Voyage. It will last 6 weeks between charges, based on half an hour’s reading each day. I currently have the Paperwhite, which will last even longer – 8 weeks between charges based on 30 minute’s worth of reading a day. I think the Voyage must have a smaller battery. It’s certainly thinner and lighter than the Paperwhite.

That’s great as it means that you don’t need to worry about running out of power on a long haul flight or train journey. You don’t even need to take your charger with you on relatively short trips.

Plenty Of Ebooks To Choose From

There are plenty of ebooks available for you to choose from these days. These tend to be a bit cheaper than the printed version – and so they should; after all, they use no ink, paper or bindings – and they don’t have to be delivered by road or rail. Ebooks are also more environmentally friendly – as long as you read a fair number of books at least.

You can also find plenty of out-of-copyright books available at absolutely no charge. You can download these right from the Amazon website – or you can use specialized sites such as Project Gutenberg to find out-of-copyright books for free.

In addition to free books, you will also find plenty of self-published ebooks by authors who would never have had their works published in the old printed publishing world. Quality varies quite a bit, but you can always download the first chapter as a sample to see if you like a new author, so there’s not much risk to you.

There are quite a few self-published books on the bestseller lists these days. Some of these authors are definitely worth checking out.

Ereaders In Summary

Ereaders have a lot to offer. Decluttering your home is just a bonus. Here’s a few of the advantages of ereaders:

  • Great reading experience on e-ink display.
  • Long battery life.
  • Carry thousands of books on a small, compact device.
  • Get cheap, or free, ebooks.
  • Be kinder to the environment.

Halogen Ovens

big boss halogen oven

Best Gadget Ever?

There’s not a lot of point arguing about which is the “best” gadget. Everybody is different, with different needs and preferences; you’ll never agree which gadget is best.

I’m not even sure if deciding on a “favorite” gadget is a worthwhile exercise. However, I’m fairly confident that I can say that my halogen oven is, without any shadow of a doubt, one of the most used gadgets in my kitchen, and probably in my house.

I was given it as a gift. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have bought one of these. I tended to associate with TV shopping channels, which is where I used to see them advertised most frequently.

I suppose I thought of them as a bit of a gimmicky gadget. Turns out I was way off the mark there, my halogen oven has become one of my most useful household gadgets.

What Is A Halogen Oven Anyway?

halogen oven with accessoriesHalogen ovens have a fairly simple construction, as you can see from the image on the top right.

A large glass bowl sits on top of a plastic frame and a lid, which contains a halogen light bulb and a fan, covers the glass bowl. The lid has temperature controls and a timer on the outside.

The glass bowl is usually about 12 liters in capacity (roughly 12 quarts). That’s enough to cook a large chicken and all the vegetables that go with it.

If you want, you can add a stainless steel extender ring between the bowl and the lid. This will boost the capacity to 17 liters (18 quarts), which will let you cook a fairly large turkey – say 16 or 17 pounds.

The stainless steel extender ring was included with my oven, as were a couple of racks (high and low) and a couple of trays, plain and perforated. You also get tongs and a little pamphlet with a few recipe ideas to get you started.

How Does A Halogen Oven Work?

The halogen light bulb – it’s a thin, flexible tube formed into a circular shape in fact – acts as the heat source. It produces instant heat, there’s no “warm up” time required.

The small fan circulates the air in the glass bowl to ensure that the heat is evenly distributed. Food cooks by both infra-red and convection.

Because there’s no waiting for the oven to heat up, and because of the dual infra-red/convection cooking method, food cooks very quickly. You can get cooking times which are, depending upon the type of food being cooked, close to microwave times.

However, unlike a microwave oven, you will get lovely golden brown chicken and crispy, glazed roasts from your halogen oven. You can cook literally anything in it that you would in your traditional oven.

You can roast meat and poultry, cook burgers, steak and pizza, boil eggs, bake bread, pies, cookies and muffins – I’m not really aware of anything that can’t be cooked in a halogen oven.

Here’s a quick demo of how to cook a chicken in a halogen oven:

Benefits Of Halogen Ovens

As already mentioned, halogen ovens are extremely versatile. You can use them to cook anything that you would in a conventional oven – but much faster. And the advantages don’t stop there.

Because they cook fast and have a relatively small volume, halogen ovens use a lot less energy than you would were you to cook the same meal in your normal oven. Most manufacturers claim a reduction of around about 75% in energy usage.

They also require much less oil than normal cooking methods. You can air fry items such as breaded chicken or French fries using no more than a spoonful of oil. You can enjoy the food you love, but without having to worry about your health.

Halogen ovens are inexpensive and small enough to fit right on your kitchen worktop. There’s no need to modify any cupboards or build them in. You can even take them with you when you move, or if you travel in an RV for a short break.

When the meal is over and everybody’s satisfied, it’s really easy to clean your halogen oven. They all have a “Self Clean” setting which just needs you to add water and detergent, then set the timer. You can also just pop the bowl into the dishwasher or clean it in the sink if you prefer.

Halogen Oven Summary

  • Save you time
  • Save energy – save you money
  • Versatile and easy to use
  • Small and compact
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean
  • Give you healthy meals

Since I got my halogen oven, I use it all the time. I hardly ever use my main oven any more – and the microwave is just used for heating things up (which is what most people use their micros for I think).

In fact, that’s the big difference between a halogen oven and a microwave right there: microwaves are mainly for heating up already cooked food; halogen ovens are actually used (and used a lot) for proper cooking.