This is a remarkable product and I’m really glad I went out on a limb to try it.
I read many of the reviews here on Shared Reviews for laptop coolers. That convinced me that I did not want one of the plastic ones with fans built in. I also looked at the kind which are basically a foam pad with a hole in the middle. But those all raise the computer much higher on the desk or your lap. I did not want that at all.
Then I saw this pad. It is a quilted pad which contains sodium sulfate decahydrate heatsinking material. This is an inexpensive, but important chemical used in a number of manufacturing processes. Lately it has been used to store heat from low grade solar power applications. Adding extra surface area with the bubbles on a thin pad means that there is large heat dissipation.
The pad looks like black cloth bubble wrap on the top. The bubbles feel crunchy, as if they were filled with small beads of ground glass. The material inside softens when it warms and disperses heat out the sides of the pad. It says that if it gets hot enough the beads will liquify, but I don’t think mine has gotten that hot yet. The back of the pad is microfleece.
Lab tests showed that after 90 minutes under a particular laptop the iXoft had a temperature of 97 degrees, glass and wood were at 107 degrees, and a book- perhaps a common “quick and dirty” remedy to keep computer heat from burning your legs was at 108 degrees.
The pad is 12 x 14 inches, and fits perfectly under my laptop. It says that it’s ok to use it under laptops that are up to 17 inches wide. It weighs 640g which is 1 pound, 6 oz. The height is less than an inch, so it doesn’t change the way the keyboard feels under your hands very much. There is no power required so you don’t plug it in to your computer or anything, it’s just a special pad.
I have used it for a week now. I use it at my desk during the day, and take it to the TV room in the evening so I can use my computer while spending time with hubby. There the computer is on my lap for long stretches of time. Previous to buying the cooler the computer was getting almost so hot on my lap that I couldn’t stand it. With the pad I can definitely tell the difference. That is not to say that it is actually cool to the touch, but there is not that concentrated spot of heat.
I like that the pad is flexible. It says you can bend it safely when it is cool or warm. It does add another pound + to the weight on your legs, and there is a certain amount of heat involved just in having something heavy rest against your body for an extended time. But the heat from the computer is definitely being dispersed.
Adding that layer does mean that there is a tendency for the laptop to slide a bit, but the surface of the pad is not too slick, so I think this is less of a problem than it would be with the plastic coolers. The microfleece back of the pad means that the pad itself doesn’t slip much. It is annoying to remember to pick up both the computer and the pad together when I move it. It’s probably more convenient than most laptop coolers, but not as simple as not needing one, so I didn’t give it a 5 on that rating.
Other than that, it’s working really well. The first night I used it there seemed to be a slight odor of playdoh (too weird), but that has gone away. I did get it on sale, but it would probably be worth the full price.
Update On Mar 06, 2010: This is just over a year old and it is holding up well. The beads have squished around a little and congregated in the corners. But when I realized that this was happening I started pushing them back into the middle when it was warm and although that's not really easy to do it works ok. I still really like this product.