The $50 ThermaPAK HeatShift bag is a laptop carrying case that also has a built-in cooling system. The cooling technology works without using any batteries, plugs, or cords, and can be separated from the accompanying case. The design can benefit from extra straps and a more organized interior, but the cooling properties work as advertised and cut the heat from our laptop by an impressive 9 degrees. We recommend this case if your laptop needs to seriously chill out.
The ThermaPAK HeatShift is made of a thick memory foam that you commonly see in high-priced pillows. It won't protect your laptop from a severe fall, but rest assured that it's fully enclosed on all four sides with a hard plastic frame designed to withstand bumps and dings. The exterior of the bag is extremely basic, and the inside cover holds the only pocket on the entire bag. The HeatShift bag should really call itself a case, because it lacks the features of a typical laptop bag, most notably a shoulder strap and room for a power adapter or other accessories.
There isn't much room for an AC adapter, extra battery, or document folder, and we actually tried placing a single AC adapter inside and it created a very tight fit, not to mention an unsightly bulge. ThermaPAK claims you easily convert the case into a mobile office station, but there's no way to secure your screen to the bag, leaving the top half of your laptop uncovered. In addition, the bottom of the case lacks texture and caused our laptop to slip around and almost fall out of the case.
The HeatShift bag's main selling point is the HeatShift cooling pad. According to the company, the pad uses laboratory tested cooling crystals that dissipate heat away from your computer. The pad feels hard and bumpy at room temperature, but introducing heat causes the crystals to temporarily melt into an absorbing liquid. Once you're done with the pad, the liquid crystals automatically fuse back into their solid form. The pad doesn't require any external power, refrigeration, or long-term maintenance and can be used with any laptop. The pad itself is secured to the bag using two strips of elastic and can be completely removed to use separately.
We used the HP G60-125nr laptop to run our multitasking test and measured the CPU temperature with and without the Heatshift Pad. We allowed the computer to run for half an hour on each test and recorded the temperature in degrees. Without using the cooling pad, the laptop's hottest average temperate was 93.4 degrees. After half an hour of cooldown time, we ran the test again with the pad in place and measured an average temperature of 84.2 degrees, a notable 9.2-degree difference. ThermaPAK also tells us that the crystals will never lose their ability to dissipate heat and will continue to change from liquid to solid and back again for the duration of its lifetime.