A Lap is No Place for a Laptop
Laptops are like the Grape-Nuts cereal of computers. Just as a Grape-Nut is neither a grape nor a nut, so it is with laptops, they are not designed to operate sitting on top of a lap! Of course, using a laptop on your lap is not going to immediately ruin your computer, but habitual lap usage can shorten the life of your machine.
Basically, any machine that uses fans and vents to cool itself can overheat if airflow is restricted. If you have used a laptop on your lap for an extended session, then you know what we are talking about when the computer becomes hot to the touch.
Every portable device is designed a little differently, but what you need to be aware of are the devices with vents on the bottom. You will notice that four small legs are located on each corner; this is to meant to provide maximum airflow in the space between the bottom of the machine and the surface on which it sits. Also, with different devices be aware of the vents on the sides, these too will cause overheating when obstructed.
Laptops are designed to work best on a flat surface. Laps, pillows, blankets, and carpets are all too cushy and can easily cover an air vent and cause overheating. You should also be aware of your surroundings when using an air cooled device. If you operate your laptop on a floor or outside, then look out for loose particles like dust, pet hair, and Grape-Nuts; the intake vents will pick these up and collect these fragments inside your laptop, which can start to cause problems down the road.
It is best practice to always use a laptop on a hard surface, like a desk or a table, this will ensure maximum airflow and extend the life of your machine. If you are the kind of person that really likes to sprawl out on the couch with your computer propped up on your lap, then a laptop pillow was designed with you in mind. The laptop pillow is a simple design; it is basically a pillow with a flat surface attached to the top for your laptop to rest on. Most major retailers carry laptop pillows, and they range in price from $10-$30. The more expensive laptop pillows include cup holders and pencil trays; although, we would not recommend you place a beverage on an unstable surface, inches away from your laptop.
As wonderful as laptops are, tablets are more mobile than laptops and they are becoming more powerful with each generation. Tablets are not only smaller in size, but the hardware is optimized to not need fans, so cooling isn't as much of an issue. It is unlikely that you will immediately trade-in your laptop for a tablet because a vent occasionally becomes obstructed, but this is something to consider when you purchase your next mobile device.
A laptop that is handled and maintained correctly will run smoothly for years. If you experience laptop overheating problems, or your notebook is full of dust, or maybe your computer is just running slow, then call us at 607.433.2200. Directive can service your machine with a tune up and detailed cleaning, and get your computer running like new.