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Technology March 7th, 2007

Is it just me or do most laptops these days have the effect of burning your lap? I’ve used laptops which get so hot that the edge of the touch pad gets too hot to touch. Like it burns. Most laptops have the guts of the thing on the bit which sits on your lap and just the screen that folds out. Because the heat is being generated down there and it’s sitting on your lap, it makes it really hard to dissipate the heat and burns the user in the process. Even if it’s using a fan, if you sit the laptop on something with an uneven surface, for example a bed, it’ll be doing nothing at all. Meanwhile the back side of the screen sits out there in nice ventilated open space and does nothing to help dissipate the troublesome heat. If we can’t shift the processor up to the back of the screen, maybe we can shift the heat? It seems like a really simple idea, but we’ve seen some really simple ideas coming out recently which could change laptop computing forever. I’m talking about the ASUS XG Station and the ATI Lasso. It’s a really simple idea – make a dock with a powerful graphics card so you can satisfy the gamers needs whilst making the laptop light enough away from the dock to satisfy portability needs. Simple, but brilliant.

Sony have made the Panel Pc, which is the opposite of the normal laptop – the screen has the entire computer in it and the keyboard folds down at the front. It looks odd, and I don’t think it’s meant to be a laptop, but it seems to be on the right track. Surely, these heat issues can be looked at. Here’s an idea along the same lines as the external graphics card station: create a standard for a pluggable heat sink. Just a hole in your computer thats attached directly to the CPU heatsink. If you’re at home and you’re running processor intensive applications (such as games) you can plug in a nice big copper heatsink (and maybe fan) and it’ll lend a hand to dissipate the heat. When you’re on the run you leave it at home. If you wanted something portable you could have a little foldable piece of copper which plugs into the same slot. It’s small so you could take with you and use it when you feel the heat start to burn through your pants. It could fold out like an antenna to radiate the heat into the air as opposed into your pants.

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