Date: September 20th, 2003
Rating: Very good
Leave it to Antec to constantly come up with new and innovative PC accessories. This time it’s a goodie for laptop users: the Antec Notebook Cooler (ANC).
The ANC is a light, portable platform that is used as a base for laptops. Placing a laptop on top of it instead of directly placing it on your lap / desk / floor / couch / etc. has the following advantages:
Laptop manufacturers face a constant battle of finding the right balance between laptop performance and controlling heat. Most laptops get pretty toasty underneath, which can result in uncomfortably warm thighs and private parts after prolonged and intensive use. Placing the laptop on the ANC keeps the heat away from the lap, making for a more comfortable work experience.
Many laptops have venting slots or fan openings on the underside. Placing the laptop on your lap or a soft surface such as a blanket or carpet can result in those opening being covered up, preventing proper ventilation and cooling. Using the ANC will keep those vents open, allowing continued airflow.
The ANC also provides active cooling in form of two built-in low-profile fans that blow cool air on the underside of the laptop. These fans do not require batteries or a separate power source as they are powered by the laptop via a USB cable. One end plugs into the laptop’s USB port, the other end of the cable plugs into the side of the ANC next to a small on/off switch. The USB cable has a pass-through jack on the laptop side which means it does not block a USB port form being used for another peripheral. The caveat here is that it places a very small additional power load on the laptop, and limits the power that can be drawn by the device plugged into the pass-through USB jack.
The ANC is made of plastic and a light aluminum surface. It provides a solid base to rest the laptop on for added stability. In addition, it has four thick two-inch rubber feet that prevent it from slipping on smooth surfaces. It is big enough to support even large laptops such as the Dell Inspiron 8500 shown here.
The ANC can also be of advantage in an ergonomic sense. It raises the laptop by about an inch high off the surface it is placed on, bringing it a little bit closer to the eyes and possibly making for a more comfortable typing angle.
The air flow for the fans goes through fan grills at the bottom of the unit and holes in the aluminum surface at the top. This works great when the fan grills at the bottom are unobstructed, but not if they are blocked when placing on a soft surface such as blanket or carpet, or on large thighs. It might have been useful to place air intakes around the sides of the unit if that was possible without compromising the structural integrity of the unit.
The ANC is very light, less than an inch thick, and its footprint is less than most laptops. While it should slip easily into most laptop bags, it is another accessory to carry around and take up space.
The power cable is cleverly stored in a small compartment at the bottom of the unit. However, the cover for the compartment is hard to get off and requires a tool such as a small screwdriver or key or pen. A different latch design would be beneficial.
The active cooling capabilities are nothing to write home about. The fans don’t run very fast and don’t move that much air due to power restrictions. While it may reduce temperatures by a few degrees, it won’t directly impact performance. If a laptop is crashing due to overheating, it needs more drastic help than the ANC.
Overall, the ANC is a clever gadget for the laptop power user. It is well-made and offers some interesting useful benefits at an affordable price.
Submitted by: Alex “crazygerman” Byron