One of the hidden dangers of extended laptop use is when an overheated system leads to a serious case of lap burn. There are many laptop desks on the market designed to both provide a stable work surface for laptop users and also shield them from the high temperatures modern systems can hit under a heavy workload. The Xpad Laptop Desk, a $29 laptop desk that offers a thick protective layer between you and your laptop, is a serious piece of equipment that may be overkill for smaller laptops but offers reassuring protection for people working with larger systems.
Measuring 13 inches wide by 10.5 inches deep by 0.7 inch thick, the Xpad looks at first glance like a kitchen cutting board. Weighing slightly less than one pound, it's solid-feeling, but it can add a significant amount of weight and bulk to your laptop bag.
The Xpad shields you from your laptop's heat by way of four raised panels on the top of the ABS composite body; ABS, or acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, is the same stuff used for Lego bricks and plumbing pipes. These raised panels, in the shape of an X, have rubber antislip pads on them to hold your laptop steady, even when the Xpad is slightly tilted.
By placing your laptop on top of the raised panels, most of the computer's surface area is exposed to the air, and the air channels allow heat to escape and provide improved airflow. A layer of rubber insulation on the bottom provides additional heat protection.
Using a popular business laptop, the Lenovo T60, we put the Xpad to the test by running CNET Labs' grueling Multitasking test on the system and recording the CPU temperature. Running the test without the Xpad, the CPU got as hot as 80.8 degrees during the test. After a cooldown period, we ran the test again, this time with the laptop on the Xpad. The highest temperature recorded during the second test was 74.4 degrees, a significant decrease.
It's a shame then, that the Xpad is so heavy, bulky, and just plain ugly. With such a notable decrease in temperature, the Xpad offers effective laptop cooling, and a cooler-running laptop is good for both your body and the life of your laptop.