Mobile Computing: Are Hot Spots Safe?

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Notebooks & Accessories

Reader Response: Targus Cooler Is Cool

In response to my recent story about overheating notebooks, Mark Hoggatt of Yuma, Arizona recommends the Targus Tornado Notebook Chill Mat ($30), a cooling mat for notebooks.

The Chill Mat features two built-in fans, is powered by a USB port, and is designed to dissipate the heat generated by the notebook during use. Hoggatt says the Targus cooler keeps his Dell Inspiron 5100 "always at or just above room temperature."

A former programmer and equipment designer for Motorola, Hoggatt says that for every 18 degrees Fahrenheit elevation in temperature, the life of a computer's semiconductor is reduced by a factor of 10.

"Heat is the laptop's number one enemy," he stresses, and the Targus cooler is helping to prolong his notebook's life. (Hoggatt says he has no affiliation with Targus.)

Reader Response: Idle Your CPU

Notebook overheating is apparently a hot topic, given all the messages I've received on the subject. James MacLean of Lauderhill, Florida e-mailed me to recommend CPUIdle. The software utility reduces power consumption and CPU temperature by shutting down the CPU when it's not in use and by performing other power management tasks typically not handled by the computer's operating system, according to the German developer's Web site (which is in English).

"I've been using CPUIdle for years on my notebook and it really does reduce the [notebook's] temperature significantly," writes MacLean, who says he has no affiliation with the company and is simply a "satisfied customer."

I've not used CPUIdle, and judging from its Web site, it looks a bit techie. But you can try the software free for 30 days, after which you must pay $30 (U.S.) to continue using it.

Cool Accessory: The Oyster

While I'm on the subject of overheating notebooks, Sherpaq Mobile Products offers what looks like a cool solution to the problem: the Oyster, a sleek docking station that positions the notebook vertically. According to the company, the Oyster has an open-air design that allows heat to escape from the notebook.

In addition, the Oyster positions the notebook's display at eye level and allows you to connect an external keyboard and pointing device for a more physically comfortable setup, according to Eric Thompson, the company's principal. I've never tried the Oyster, but it looks promising. It's available for $149 from, which offers a 30-day return policy.

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