Review: CoolPad and PodiumPad

Two handy laptop risers for on the road, and in the office (July 13th, 2002)

MacNN Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Road Tools

Price: CoolPad- $20; PodiumPad- $30

The Good

  • Good construction, both units are lightweight; 360-degree pivoting; great grips

The Bad

  • A lower price would keep PowerBook users off the fence.

As notebooks become more powerful, they tend to generate more heat. Fans and other active coolers alleviate heat issues, but create other problems, namely noise and decreased battery life. The travel-size CoolPad and adjustable PodiumPad solutions work to combat this problem without adverse side effects, while at the same time add an ergonomic tilt for keyboarding.

Chill out

Our 500-megahertz PowerBook G4 -- arguably the hottest/loudest laptop ever made by Apple -- was silenced by the additional cooling offered by the PodiumPad and CoolPad.

Before, during processor-intensive tasks, the notebook's irritatingly loud fan would come on. With the additional cooling of either pad, the laptop never needed to activate its fan. As such, we recommend the 'passive-cooling' capabilities of the PodiumPad and CoolPad, to those who are disturbed by the noise created in an 'actively-cooled' configuration.

Overheating computers do not function as well as properly cooled machines. If you have a notebook plagued by persistent crashing, it may be the result of one heat-related issue or another (summer heat causes higher ambient temperatures). The PodiumPad and CoolPad should help a lot to extend the life and increase the reliability of your hardware.

Ergonomics

The PodiumPad offers three-stage height adjustment for all situations (user, work surface, etcetera). Adjusting the height of the PodiumPad with the Lego-like inserts is a snap, so long as you're not trying to pull off the final rubber riser -- its curved shape makes it difficult to grip. The standard CoolPad elevates the rear of the notebook, but it doesn't provide for adjustable height -- a sacrifice for convenient portability. Taller users will appreciate the added tilt and height. The PodiumPad also works well on counters, podiums, and other surfaces designed for average-height users.

The CoolPad and PodiumPad are helpful for use in presentations among small groups of people because both swivel freely 360-degrees.

Sticks like no other

The PodiumPad's feet are very grippy on either side.

Even at extreme angles, the PodiumPad's rubber feet are able to hold on to a six-pound PowerBook, so you don't have to worry about a notebook placed properly on the PodiumPad. The PowerBook was still sticking on there ten minutes after the photograph was taken.

For business travelers and road warriors who use their computer in a car or on a plane, the CoolPad provides for additional stability and prevents the notebook from sliding off a tray or table. I only question how long these pads will keep their outstanding grip.

Protect your investment

Classy leather blotters are expensive furniture-protecting investments, but that's about all they do for computers. In fact, they are counter-productive and work to block heat dissipation under computers. A CoolPad protects desks from scratches and heat without costing and arm and a leg, while allowing the laptop to dissipate heat naturally.

Conclusion and Ballistics

For only $30, I would recommend the Podium CoolPad to any notebook owner. The Podium CoolPad's adjustable height makes typing more comfortable. It works exactly as advertised. There are no major drawbacks to either unit, and their construction is mutually lightweight and solid. I recommend these Road Tools to any laptop user.

by Sean Yepez


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