The Targus Laptop Chill Mat is a piece of crap

2008-03-30 23:12:14 UTC

Under my MacBook Pro, I use a Targus Laptop Chill Mat. The Chill Mat is an active-cooling pad: it contains two fans that suck in air at the top (i.e., between the laptop and the mat) and thrust it out the back.

And it is a piece of crap.

I’m currently on my second Chill Mat. The first one died when the connector in the mat went loose, so that the cable’s connector no longer made a good connection with it. I sent that one in for warranty service, and got back the one I was using up until a few days ago. The way this one died is that the inline power switch on the cable is now permanently off, and just flops around; I cannot turn it on.

Looking at the website in preparation for this post, I noticed that the Chill Mat shown on the website looks different from mine. Maybe they’ve redesigned it, and the hardware is more reliable now. I intend to investigate this.

But, if that fails, I have three choices:

  1. Send this thing in for warranty service again.
  2. Surgically remove the inline switch, and hope the connector doesn’t flake out.
  3. Get a different active-cooling pad.

I’m seriously considering #3, but I’m not sure of my options. (I am definitely not open to passive-cooling solutions such as Targus’ coat rack.) Having made one bad choice before, I now turn the decision over to you.

Can you recommend a good USB-powered active-cooling pad for a 15″ MacBook Pro?

9 Responses to “The Targus Laptop Chill Mat is a piece of crap”

  1. ssp Says:

    Sorry for sounding bitter but wouldn’t the real question be when TF they’ll simply start selling computers again which don’t become uncomfortably hot? This is supposed to be the 21st century and so far we’ve been doing worse than in the 20th…

  2. Peter Hosey Says:

    ssp: Part—not all, but part—of the problem is that computers like the MBP and MBA have metal cases, which dissipate heat faster—basically turning the underside of your laptop into a griddle. Good for the computer, but not for your legs.

    But since even the plastic MacBook will grill your thighs eventually, I suspect we may be stuck with this problem for awhile yet.

  3. Simone Manganelli Says:

    Oh, jeebus, ssp, again with the histrionics. I’m sorry, but there’s no way in hell that I’d want to go back to computer technology from the 20th century. It was excellent for the times, but I prefer pre-emptive multitasking, fast wireless connections, Exposé, and iTunes to anything that the 20th century had to offer, thanks.

    And really, it’s only uncomfortably hot if you actually use it directly on your skin for extended periods at a time. The heat from my MacBook is reasonable as long as it’s only been in my lap for 30 minutes or so, but by then I usually change positions and it’s not on my lap anyway. That’s not to say that it’s not a problem, but I question the need for active heat dissipation.

    What do you suggest be done about the problem? Should Apple hold constant the performance of its laptops for a year or two? Or should Apple magically come up with some material or Intel come up with some magical processor technology that magically dissipates heat in some magical way without it magically heating up your legs, too?

  4. Peter Hosey Says:

    And really, it’s only uncomfortably hot if you actually use it directly on your skin for extended periods at a time. The heat from my MacBook is reasonable as long as it’s only been in my lap for 30 minutes or so, …

    That has a plastic case. The metal notebooks have better heat dissipation through the entire case—good for the computer, but bad for the human it’s resting on. My MBP can grill me even through my pants.

  5. laptop fan Says:

    darn it would be nice if this worked

  6. Jesper Says:

    Or should Apple magically come up with some material or Intel come up with some magical processor technology that magically dissipates heat in some magical way without it magically heating up your legs, too?

    Yes, actually.

    It being a hard problem doesn’t give Apple or Intel (or Nvidia, whose chipsets and GPUs also have a say in the matter) carte blanche to ignore the problem. They should tackle it *because* it is hard, inconvenient and used to not exist. The alternatives are keeping it at bay on this exact level (which is already inconvenient) and ignoring it, thus inadvertently making it worse (and I don’t have any data to back this up, but as far as I can tell, it has gotten worse).

    Apple and Intel are worrying about this already; Intel’s been making nice strides for a few years in bringing down the power consumption, and Apple’s investing in this as part of making products greener. It’s not an easy problem, and it’s likely that they’re doing the best they can, but that doesn’t mean that pointing out the problem and hoping for a solution is an irrational attempt to conjure up ponies. Defeatism is as bad as histrionics in my book.

  7. Jesper Says:

    That needs some clarification: The problem needs fixing. Apple can’t circumvent the laws of physics as per your example (the one I quoted), but ssp weren’t asking them to either.

  8. John Says:

    Rather than active cooling, I’d suggest a great passive cooling solution that I’ve been using for a few years with my PowerBooks/MacBook Pros. It protects your lap very nicely against even the hottest machine and has the additional benefit of very comfortable and functional padding for your legs, lap and forearms.

    There are models for all sizes of laptops, even the 17″ MacBook Pro ‘Aircraft Carrier’.

    http://www.raindesigninc.com/ilap.html

    John

  9. Peter Hosey Says:

    John: The problem with passive cooling is that it doesn’t cool as well. I don’t just want to not burn myself; I also want to keep my laptop cool.

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