Computer Accessories Archive

Product Review–Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo laptop cooling pad

I am reviewing the Cooler Master NotePal infinite Evo laptop cooling pad which is one of may laptop rests that are equipped with a forced-air cooling subsystem. Here, these units use this fan-forced air to cool the underside of the laptop which, in a lot of older and “thin-and-light” designs, can become very hot. An example of this was the HP Envy 15 laptop that I had previously reviewed on this site. Here, this unit wouldn’t take long to become uncomfortably hot during operation.

This situation may lead to the computer being uncomfortable to use after a significant amount of time and there can be a chance of heat building up under the computer, thus causing overheating and a shortened lifespan for that laptop.

Cooler Master is a name primarily associated with the manufacture of aftermarket computer cooling systems for desktop PCs. These are usually in the form of CPU fan subsystems or add-on case fans that are used as part of tuning-up “LAN-party” PCs for maximum gaming performance, similar to “hotting up” cars for maximum street performance.

Cooler Master NotePal Infite Evo laptop cooling pad

 

Recommended Retail Price: AUD$59

The unit itself

Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo power input and fan controls

USB input, Fan controls and DC input

This NotePal Infinite Evo is based around an aluminium panel with rubber strips to hold the laptop on. This panel is positioned ant an angle and has two small fans underneath it to create the air draught under the computer. This is the reverse to the typical fan heater which draws the cold air in the top and forces the heated air out the heater’s front grille. Both of these fans are variable-speed fans that are adjusted by use of a thumbwheel on the left side of the unit.

Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo USB hub connections

USB hub connections

This is powered through a USB connection to the host laptop computer and there are 3 USB 2.0 ports on the right side of the laptop cooling mat.This is unlike most of the cheaper laptop cooling pads that don’t have a USB hub, thus leaving you without a USB connection when you use them. Thee is also a 5V DC power connection for use with a 5V power adaptor if you need to run this unit as a self-powered USB hub. Here, the external power supply would be required if you were to connect the typical 2.5″ USB hard disk to the unit’s hub while using it as a cooling pad.

Cooler Master NotePal Infite Evo laptop cooling pad intake grilles

Rear-mounted intake grilles

The air is drawn in through large grilles on the back of the unit and expelled through a small air scoop just under where the computer sits.

Usage

Judging from how I handled the Cooler Master  laptop cooling pad, I noticed that it was very well built. There was nothing loose about it and the controls operated properly and smoothly as on good-quality equipment.

The NotePal Infinite Evo mat is lighter than the typical 15” laptop which makes it easier to transport with the laptop. There are large rubber pads to prevent the pad slipping across table tops and protect those polished wooden dining or coffee tables from scratches.

During operation, there is a slight buzz from the fan at high speed, which is well below typical conversation level. I have observed this with a regular laptop being placed on the cooling pad. I have checked for excessive vibration while the fan is at the same high speed and there wasn’t any of that vibration.

The USB hub works according to the standards for a USB hub without the need for driver CDs. Remember that it is a bus-powered USB hub unless you connect a 5VDC power supply to the DC-IN jack on the left of the unit.

Points Of Improvement

One point of improvement that I would like to see is a version that suits subnotebook / ultraportable computers and is big enough for them, without sacrificing the build quality and quiet operation.

As well, Cooler Master could provide an external power supply kit as an option for the NotePal Infinite Evo units so they can work as a self-powered USB hub when used with USB hard disks or as a charging bar for mobile phones.

Conclusion

I would recommend that people who find that their laptop computer runs hot too easily during games or graphics-intensive work should purchase the Cooler Master NotePal Infinite Evo cooling pad. It does the job without intruding on one’s computing life and is designed to last a long time. As well you don’t lose the functionality of the USB socket it is connected to.

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First device to use Wi-Fi technology for host-peripheral connection

Article

HP Intros The First Wi-Fi Mouse For Your PC | eHomeUpgrade

From the horse’s mouth

HP Introduces Wireless PC Accessories to Enhance the Computing Experience

Click here to play YouTube video

My Comments

This mouse is the first to use the Wi-Fi technology as a “personal area network” i.e. to use a network technology to connect peripherals to a host computer. At the moment it requires the host computer to run Windows 7 and implement the “virtual network adaptor” technology in its Wi-Fi chipset.

Furthermore, the host computer needs also to run a device-monitor applet supplied by HP with this mouse. This whole functionality could be improved through the use of code being integrated in Windows 7.

This mouse is expected to have a 9 month battery life which is meant to be longer than with devices that run current Bluetooth technology. I would see that as a coup for Wi-Fi when it comes to applications ranging from mice and keyboards to other “sensor and control” applications like barcode readers used in business; remote controls or health-monitor devices. As well, if the chipsets used in this mouse are implemented in smartphones, PMP / MID devices (iPod Touch, etc) or tablet computers, this could help with improving device runtime when they are used with Wi-Fi networks.

As far as the software is concerned, I would like to have HP avoid “reinventing the wheel” for Wi-Fi mice, keyboards and similar peripherals by making use of “class drivers” that have been defined for USB or Bluetooth human-interface devices.

There is one question that could be asked about this device as in whether it could work over the regular wireless network using the network’s router or access point and sending the data back to the host computer via that local area network, rather than the host PC’s wireless adaptor being virtualised as an access point. This may be of concern with people who run a desktop computer that doesn’t have integrated Wi-Fi but is connected to a the network via Ethernet or HomePlug and this network has a Wi-Fi segment serviced by a wireless router or access point.

A similar setup has been achieved with the myRemote Android app which converts an Android smartphone in to a mouse or remote control for a computer. This one uses the regular wireless network and requires knowledge of the host computer’s IP address and that computer has to run a monitor program downloaded from the myRemote developer’s Web site.

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Product Review–Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Introduction

I am reviewing the Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones which are a very stylish set of premium lightweight headphones that are suitable for use with your portable media player, smartphone, or laptop. Here, these headphones are designed and made by a company that is one of a few “names of respect” when it comes to audio-equipment and speaker design. I have even raised this name in this site in connection with their involvement in designing the sound system for some of the ASUS premium laptops.

HP Envy alongside B&O headphones

HP Envy alongside some premium B&O headphones

Regular followers of this site may have noticed these headphones as a prop in a picture that I took of the HP Envy 15 laptop, where I was emphasising the “Black Label” positioning of this premium laptop.

These “over-the-head” headphones sell at B&O stores for $199 and if the earpads wear out, you can replace them for $10 a pair but I had received this pair from some close friends as a 40th birthday present. As you will read further, you will find that they are a real treat to use.

Look

Like with all B&O products, the style of these headphones is a very strong point. Here, there is a large black aluminium headband with the square earpads anchored to the headband by bands that look as though they are part of an elegant watch’s band.

Even the plug is designed to match the look and positioning of these headphones. Here, it is a small plug with gold-plated contacts which are known to provide the high-quality sound transfer.

Comfort

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones

This has allowed for a snug comfortable fit on the user’s head with the earpads pressing in on the user’s ears. As well, they are not too heavy and will not fall off your head too readily unlike a lot of cheaper headphones.

Here, this allows for use of these headphones over a long time, yet you can still slide them aside if you need to talk to someone nearby while you are wearing them.

Sound quality

The real story with these headphones is in the sound quality, whether you are listening to music or audiobooks, watching movies, playing computer games or using them with a microphone adaptor for handling phone calls with your mobile phone, This has been based on B&O’s reputation in designing speakers and headphones that go with their stylish and luxurious hi-fi systems.

It is very much what you would expect from true hi-fi headphones. Here the sound was clear and tight and not boomy and it didn’t matter if the headphones were fed with music or sound effects from a movie or game. For voice applications, including telephone calls, the Form 2 excels on the voice clarity and could be suitable as part of a headset system for wideband telephony setups.

These headphones don’t have any noise-cancellation circuitry and are of the kind that sit on your ears. These factors may be a limitation with using them in noisy environments like aeroplanes, buses or diesel railcars but their snug fit reduces the noise impact from these environments slightly.

Bang & Olufsen Form 2 headphones - earpad and watchband styke bracket

Earpad and watchband-style bracket

Points of improvement

There aren’t really any points of improvement except for B&O to make a derivative headset that has an integrated microphone for use with smartphones and other telecommunications applications. This would be of importance when it comes to designing a headset fit to be used with HD Audio and other wideband telephony setups.

As well, they could provide a “travel-kit” as an accessory for these headphones and other headphones in their range. This would consist of an elegant storage case, an active noise-cancellation module and a “jet-plug” adaptor to connect these headphones to inflight-entertainment systems.

Conclusion

I would recommend these headphones if you value good-quality sound, style and comfort from a set of “over-the-head” headphones. Even if you can’t afford a set yourself, it may be worth wish-listing it as a gift for an upcoming major birthday or anniversary. As well, once you use them, your ears will certainly know the difference between good headphones and cheap headphones.

I would even say that these headphones are a good partner accessory for a premium laptop like the Acer Ferrari or the HP Envy laptops.

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