Laptop users are often at the mercy of their machines, enduring singed legs and overheated laps as computer temperatures creep ever higher. There are a wide variety of laptop desks on the market designed to provide a portable work surface and shield users from sizzling systems. The $29.99 LapWorks Laptop Desk UltraLite is thin and light enough not to weigh you down, but it's heat-dissipating properties are not as good as some other devices we've tested.
Measuring 22 inches wide by 10.75 inches deep by 0.25 inch thick, the UltraLite has ample room for most laptops, plus it has a textured surface on each end for use with a mouse. For maximum cooling, it can fold in half and sit at an angle, allowing for air to move underneath the system. This raises the back of your laptop about three inches from the table (or your lap), and this was how we set up the UltraLite for our test.
Using a popular business laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad T60, we put the LapWorks Laptop Desk UltraLite to the test by running CNET Labs' grueling Multitasking test on the system and recording the CPU temperature.
Running the test without the laptop desk, the CPU got as hot as 80.8 degrees. After a cool-down period, we ran the test again, this time with the laptop sitting on the LapWorks Laptop Desk UltraLite. The highest temperature recorded during the second test was 78.8 degrees, a fairly minor decrease. Interestingly, this was the same exact temperature as another laptop desk from the same manufacturer, the slightly larger and thicker LapWorks Laptop Desk 2.0.
We saw a much bigger drop, to 74.4 degrees, using the Xpad Laptop Desk, which leaves more of the laptop bottom's surface area exposed to the air.