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Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat review: Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat

Targus' cooling mat packs down nearly flat, yet it's big enough to support a 17-inch, scorching-hot desktop-replacement laptop. It's not a pretty item, but at least you won't need a replacement lap.

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Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
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Dan Ackerman
3 min read

At first glance, it may seem that if you've seen one laptop cooling stand, you've seen them all. That's not entirely true, although there are plenty of similar models, usually in the form of a fixed plastic wedge, either with or without USB-powered fans.

Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat - notebook stand with 2 cooling fans

Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat

The Good

The adjustable <b>Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat</b> packs down to just over an inch thick, but pops open to lift and cool larger laptops.

The Bad

With its drab plastic design it doesn't feel like a $40-plus accessory, and the stand has only two positions, open and closed.

The Bottom Line

Most laptop stands either are too big to carry, or only support smaller notebooks. The Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat packs down nearly flat, and can also support 17-inch desktop-replacement laptops.

After reviewing several of those a few years ago, since not much interesting has happened in that space, I haven't felt the need to revisit the topic. But every once in a while a laptop stand does something a little different, and is worth a fresh look.

Recently, NZXT got creative, adding movable fans to its Cryo E40 cooling stand, making it easy to adjust the airflow. Targus has a different hook, but still an interesting one, in the Space Saving Lap Chill Mat, a $42 (I've seen it for $29 at online retailers) folding stand that incorporates dual fans.

That means the Targus stand folds down nearly flat, measuring only 1.25 inches thick in its closed state. Twist a knob to open it, and the back edge pops up, creating a wedge shape that raises the back edge of your laptop 2.5 inches from the desk. That may not sound like a lot, but it's a sizable lift, as seen in the photos here. This wedge shape allows for better airflow and cooling, and also can create a more ergonomic angle, depending on the height of your chair and desk.

Sarah Tew/CNET

While the stand folds down, its definition of portable may not be the same as yours. The stand weighs 1.9 pounds, and its desktop footprint is 10.5x14 inches, with a folded thickness of 1.25 inches. That means you're going to need a pretty big shoulder bag to carry this around with you. Still, finding a laptop stand that works well for larger laptops is rare. That's a shame, as big, bulky 17-inch desktop-replacement laptops that stay rooted in one place very often can benefit from a more ergonomic angle (and extra cooling help). I found a 15-inch laptop matched up almost exactly with the edges of the stand, so a 17-inch desktop replacement will spill over a bit, but not enough to be unstable.

The design is inoffensive but forgettable. Light-gray plastic is offset by dark-gray gabardine padding that covers almost the entire bottom surface, and forms a padded border around the fan grate on the top surface. A USB cable, to power the dual fans inside the stand, sticks out from the left side, but can be tucked inside to stay out of the way.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There are no controls for the fans: they're USB-powered only, and either both on or both off. The fans blow air up onto the bottom panel of your laptop, rather than sucking hot air away, as some laptop cooling gadgets do. While the fans make an audible whir, I've certainly heard louder internal fans in some laptops. If you choose to tuck the USB cable away and not turn the fans on, just having the laptop elevated will create an air channel under it and aid with cooling a bit.

A laptop stand can easily be generic, so it's nice to see an occasional example that does something different. I liked the Cryo E40's metal construction better, but it's for smaller laptops only. The Targus Space Saving Lap Chill Mat has a couple of unique advantages -- it can accommodate larger laptops, and it's reasonably portable. If you need a laptop stand that hits both those marks, this one is for you.