First Look: A cooler/desk hybrid that makes laptop use practical again

Despite the name, it’s pretty well known that laptops just aren’t suitable for lap use. Whether due to the instability that the thighs (as a surface) produce or due the heat that is generated as we send the devices into overdrive, it’s generally preferable (and recommended by the manufacturers) to just stick the damn thing on a desk and get on with it. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that the long-term heat exposure that stems from laptop use can cause Toasted Skin Syndrome. As such, some people invest in impractical coolers, either active or passive, to provide some additional ventilation, but these don’t tend to cater for the lap users.

That’s where an unusual innovation that recently passed through DX Towers comes into play.

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Designed and built by Luke Hansford, a sixth form student at Christ’s Hospital School, the as-yet unnamed device converges a laptop cooler, standing and sitting desk and a desk tidy into one package. The unit, which I tested in early prototype form, is constructed from metal, wood and plastic, but it’s not exactly the sleekest solution I’ve seen – this is not going to fit in your bag for the commute. Nevertheless, it’s a great setup. The contoured acrylic base allows for a fantastic chair-centred work experience that combines the convenience of being able to sit anywhere with a functional and spacious working surface. Contrarily, when placed on a standard desk, you create a quick and convenient standing desk solution thanks to the added elevation.

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In terms of cooling, a yellow wire coming out of the rear with a thermistor on the end leads to a circuit and an active fan system underneath the isometric metal surface. Theoretically, the thermistor will kick the fan (powered by a pair of 9V batteries) into action, although trying to secure the thermistor to the warmest points of the laptop was impossible without some Blu-Tack. At this point, running Kerbal Space Program, The Walking Dead and Bioshock Infinite simultaneously not only generated enough fun to power the circuit, but also sent my laptop fan into overdrive and awoke the circuit below.

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As this is only an early prototype, modifications and refinements are afoot. Currently, he upper metal layer is vulnerable to a bit of flex when heavier machines adorn it and rotating wooden desk tidy element, while splendid for stashing away pens and other assorted desk ornaments, can dig into those among us with rounder figures. The temperamental thermistor, too, may also be adjusted to ensure more consistent action, although the perforated metal sheet does provide ample ventilation and increased airflow while remaining aesthetically pleasing. Perhaps the 9V batteries could also be phased out in favour of USB power draw, which would reduce the running costs yet further, while the thermistor system will also surely become more discrete as the prototype evolves.

Though no wide production run has yet been confirmed, it is estimated that, upon an eventual launch, the contraption would cost around £50. Make sure to follow Hansford on Twitter for updates as the project develops.

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