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The ones I have seen are plastic and don't understand how that can help with heat.
What kind are good?
The kind with fans or Peltier coolers in them.
But you shouldn't need one unless you have a cheesy, poorly-built notebook.
I've never had any problem with my IBM.
(OK, that is, until Fedora 8 - which by default dials-down the fan speed, and even if you dial it back up, insists on dialing it back down when it returns from sleep. Annoying as heck, as it trashes the screen contents. So, I can't let it sleep in Fedora - Windows is fine.)
It's made of aluminum which actually does dissipate heat well. No need to plug in to USB or whatever to run fans (I had one like this and using the USB all of the time caused some sleep/wake issues for some reason).
It's expensive but imo worth it as it makes it possible to use your laptop on your lap for an extended time.
Note: I never use the cushion on the front. Make sure to stick the pads on the top so your lappy doesn't fall off.
There should be some kind of universal heating rating in the spec sheet of laptops. You drop $1,000 or $2,000 or whatever and then find out it overheats.
My mat has a fan to cool via USB, but I think if it's running, it drains the battery. The battery sucks, too. I was hoping the mat/cooler would be good, but I'll probably get a new Mac Air--if that 3lb machine doesn't overheat.
It's 2008; laptops have been around for decades? Why are the engineers and inventors so lame the overheating issue wasn't solved years ago!?
But hey, if it's only your computer and not the battery that overheats, you shouldn't worry? Right, Dell? :-P
... runs as cool as a cucumber now :)
[edited by: Asia_Expat at 9:59 am (utc) on Mar. 19, 2008]
I wish I could post images here so I could show you the filth inside the machine.
I have a laptop cooler and it does alright. I have a tiny little Sony laptop that gets really hot despite the fan running as hard as it can. I guess it wasn't designed well, but it's about the size of an 8.5x11 piece of paper so I put up with it. I have a USB powered cooler for it which I use when I'll be working for a while. (like on a plane or a hotel) It works fairly well and the air that comes out of its ports is warm when the laptop is hot so I know it must be helping.
[edited by: SEOMike at 7:38 pm (utc) on April 1, 2008]