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Unbeknownst to most notebook (or netbook) manufacturers, putting heat spewing components into miniscule packages can result in "uncomfortable" computing for both the computer and user; and, while I'm not implying that "correlation does imply causation", consumer trends are showing increasingly high production of small portable computers and notebook coolers. However, most notebook cooling products on the market are targeted at larger notebooks, and not the increasingly popular ultra-portables and netbooks. Choiix, an offshoot of established computer peripheral manufacturer Cooler Master, has released such a product to quench the demands of mobile warriors - the "Choiix Mini Air-Through Notebook Cooling Pad with USB Hub Model C-HL02-WP".
• 70mm Fan x 1
• 4 USB 2.0 Ports
• 1 Year Limited Warranty
• 11.81″ x 9.05″ x 0.20″ - 1.18″
• Aluminum, Rubber, and Plastic
Choiix's Product Page
Price: $29.00 @ Newegg
Usually, for a product in this price range, you can expect either a flimsy cardboard box, or an inaccessible plastic container. Choiix, however, pulled out all the stops for their product packaging. Each side of the package is of a clean glossy white (except for the top and bottom, which are a vibrant orange color). The white is so clean, that I had to unroll my black background paper to properly photograph the packaging. In terms of overall design, someone over at the marketing department clearly studied the psychology of color, as the combination of green, orange, and white invoke both calmness and ambition.
The front of the package displays something eerily similar to an Apple advertising image, but does succeed in accurately portraying the product. Choiix also includes a small pamphlet attached via a chain that details all of their current products and explains their corporate philosophy (hint: it's simplicity and the corporate-consumer relationship). On the other side of the packaging, Choiix has compiled everything you could possibly ever want to know about this product, from dimensions to specific corporate phone numbers. And, marketing cheesiness aside, Choiix has done a fantastic job of creating a simple, yet extremely descriptive package that does invoke something more than the aforementioned color psychology - absolute professionalism.
Inside the Packaging:
Once you've gotten past the awesome green carrying handle and easily opened cardboard tabs, you will be presented with the cooler enclosed in both a plastic bag and styrofoam end caps (a combination that results in extremely good shipping conditions); and, along with the actual cooler, Choiix has included a manual, mini-USB to USB 2.0 cable, and laptop anti-skid pads.
The manual contains a large pictorial guide detailing installation of both versions of the "Mini Air-Through" cooler (the other has no USB hub). On the back, they've included the specifications (again), package content guide, and the differences between the two models (just in case someone was unsure of what those four slots on the back are for). Inside of the manual are the details of the warranty in 18 languages; what you basically need to know is, don't lose your receipt. The manual is remarkably well put together (especially considering installation consists of plugging the cooler into your laptop).
Choiix leaves no opportunity for user confusion, even the anti-skid pads, which simply need to be placed on the bottom of your laptop (if it lacks pads), have their own "user manual". One thing is definitely for sure - Choiix is painfully thorough, and it's not at all a bad thing.
I do have a few recommendations: the USB cable is obviously too long (almost to the point of annoyance), and maybe a less confusing solution to the constant differentiating between models could be solved by merely having both models use mini-USB instead of one using DC to USB - this could be easily implemented.
The Mini Air-Through Itself:
Upon removal, it is apparent that the "Mini Air-Through"'s design is in keeping with the package's glossy white color scheme. The body of the cooler is constructed out of a sturdy, slightly rubberized, white plastic that is completely creak / flex free. The entire device is placed onto a surface, and is tilted to increase laptop height - this should help with air circulation, and typing ergonomics; unfortunately, due to the somewhat "odd" design (in terms of positioning, the actual device looks extremely high-quality) of the cooler, this unit feels awkward if not placed on a desk. Also, it is on the small size, so if you are planning on taking your small computer with you, you can merely chuck this cooler into your backpack/case, which is not possible with most coolers.
The top of the device, where a netbook or ultra-portable sits, consists of a thin, oval, aluminum plate that should allow for maximum cooling transfer; in the middle of the aluminum is a hole for airflow, and when the laptop and cooler are positioned onto a surface, the air circulates in the space created between the laptop and said surface. The left side of the cooler features the power toggle, DC input, and mini-USB plug-in. Along with my suggestion of removing the DC input, Choiix, and most consumers would find it beneficial to give the power button a second feature; along with turning the fan on and off, turning the knob should change the fan speed - this would give users maximum flexibility without much additional cost.
On the bottom, Choiix has included large anti-skid pads to ensure that this cooler won't slide around; there's also a large vent going along the inside of the pad. While the vent extends the entire length of the oval, the single 70mm quasi-blower is not centered but on the left side of the back of the cooling pad. The blower fan, essentially, cools the aforementioned space and pushes cool air into the underbelly of the device above; the aluminum, while not critical, does stay cooler than the plastic surrounding it, and while this design does work, it may have been better to have the entire front of the unit constructed out of aluminum, for even better cooling. The backside contains the fan vent and four USB 2.0 ports, which are easily accessible as they are positioned upwards and away from the device, making long USB devices not add unnecessary length to the cooler.
Installation / Usage:
Luckily, even if you're someone who finds manuals a necessary part of gadget purchases, installation, is obviously easy. You merely put the cooler on a solid surface, if your device is anti-skid free apply the included pads, position device on aluminum base, plug-in via USB, and turn both your device and the cooling pad on. I would, again, have liked to have seen a shorter cable, but it's not that big of a deal. There is enough room on the pad to support most 7 - 10" netbooks and some smaller ultra-portables - the Thinkpad X60s fits fine.
For testing, I evaluated a Thinkpad X60s' CPU temperature level during youtube HD video playback (stressing on a CPU) - the Thinkpad ultra-portables are notorious for putting out a lot of heat (like a netbook), and are somewhat similar to a netbook in size (slightly larger). I also, heated up a tub filled with water and (calculating for slight room temperature drop) determined the temperature change using a thermometer in the tub. The cooling pad definitely performed admirably in all tests.
Another thing to note, while testing was not done on the internal USB transfer speed versus that of the cooling pad's, you may notice a slight decrease in performance - this is common with most external hubs.
If you're looking to cool down one of your smaller portable computers, need something you can easily transport, and all for a reasonable price, I doubt you'd find anything else on the market. If you're trying to get some serious applications running on your netbook without it exploding, or watching HD videos on your ultra-portable, this is your solution. However, if you're running basic applications, and aren't having any current heat problems, you might want to skip a cooling pad completely.
Does indeed work
Fan runs extremely quiet
Priced correctly (unlike most laptop coolers)
"Choiix" logo is off-center
USB cable is ridiculously long
Power toggle should control speed
As with most, USB hub speeds may be lower than onboard
Results aren't exactly "earth-shattering"
Thanks go to Choiix for the opportunity to take a look at such a cool cooler!
After reading your post i have a better understanding of what Choiix Mini Air-Through Notebook Cooling Pad with USB Hub really is.
Your post has the information that is helpful and very informative. I would like you to keep up the good work.
You know how to make your post understandable for most of the people.
Thumbs up and Thanks.