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Sunday, January 27, 2008

NOTEPAL by Cooler Master [Review]

INTRODUCTION

With so many options available to provide cooling for desktop machines, you might wonder what cooling solutions are available for laptops. In this respect your options are limited, but by no means non-existent.

The NOTEPAL by Cooler Master is essentially a plate on which you place your laptop, providing cooling via a number of methods. This plate is made out of alloy aluminum.

The NOTEPAL comes in four different versions. It comes in a design for 4:3 laptops, and a design for 16:9 laptops. For each there is an option of silver or black colour. The model I picked up was the R9-NBC-ADAK model.

As the unit is made out of aluminum, it serves to significantly dissipate heat from your laptop. The model described here has two fans on it which blow air to the underside of your notebook. The unit is powered via USB.


The typical setup would have one of the USB ports on the laptop connected to the unit to provide power. It provides an extra USB port to compensate you for the loss of the port used. If you don't have a docking station, you could even use this as a poor man's docking station for your USB devices.

INSTALLATION

Installation really is a breeze. Simply unpack the unit and place it where you wish to use your laptop. Then, place the laptop on top of it and connect the unit to a free USB port on the laptop using the supplied USB cable.

I really liked the way that the NOTEPAL raised the height of my laptop. As the NOTEPAL is angled, it raises the height of the laptop screen and puts the keyboard in an upwards slope. The increased height it provided to the screen was welcomed. I use an external keyboard with my laptop, however using the laptop's keyboard is much easier at an angle, compared to being flat on the table.

The angle also leaves a lot of space under the laptop which improves airflow.

Our laptop used in this review was slightly wider than the NOTEPAL (Approx. 1.5 cm each side), however it was still very stable.


Depending on your laptop model, the way it sits may block indicator lights and/or switches located at the front of your laptop. The laptop we used had only indicator lights on the front, and they were not obscured significantly enough to cause any problems.

GENERAL FEATURES

The unit features an on/off switch to enable or disable the onboard fans. The units fans are rated at 21 dBA. The fans are extremely quiet. Unless you are working in the quietest of rooms/offices, you will barely notice the unit in operation. In fact, you may notice your laptop reducing its own fan spin speed automatically due to the cooling capabilities of the NOTEPAL.


OTHER FEATURES


The NOTEPAL is also designed so it can be used on your lap. Strange how the term laptop has shifted over the years to Notebook instead. With this unit, you can safely operate your laptop on your person, without the fear of burning your privates.

SPECIFICATIONS

Material: Alloy Aluminium
Dimension: 320x300x40 mm
Weight: 2.05kg
Fan Dimension: 70x70x15 mm
Fan Speed" 1500 R. P. M. +/- 10%
Fan Airflow: 9.5 CFM +/- 10%
Fan Life Expectancy: 30,000 hours
Fan Noise Level: 21 dBa
Air Pressure: 0.63 mmH2O +/- 10%
Current: 0.10 A
Input: 0.6 W
Bearing Type: Sleeve
Rated Voltage: 5 VDC
USB Ports: Maximum current rate 300mA

Cooler Master NOTEPAL Specifications
http://tinyurl.com/yorlke

CONCLUSIONS

I did not perform any scientific tests to determine the cooling capabilities of this unit, however manually checking the temperature of the underside of the test laptop did tend to suggest that this unit does operate as advertised.

Taking into account the NOTEPAL's ability to increase the height of your laptop's screen, and the way that it angles the keyboard, I would strongly recommend it. I picked this unit up for NZ$70 from INC Technology in East Tamaki, Auckland, New Zealand.

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