Now that your Christmas tree has been recycled, you have had your neighbor over to help hook up your newest electronic gismo and the out-of-town guests have gone home, you may be thinking of things you did not get that maybe you really need, or possibly some accessories for that new laptop you just got.
Let me take a moment to mention a couple of things that may help your shiny new laptop last longer.
Laptops are very powerful, versatile computers but they do have issues unique to them; one of them being heat. Heat is the No. 1 killer of any electronic device and this is especially so for laptops. Your laptop generates about the same amount of heat as a full-sized PC, but it has tiny little fans to dissipate the heat.
Are you going to trust your $1,000 laptop to those little fans? I wouldn't. The first thing you need to do is blow out all the vents as a part of your monthly maintenance. This is pretty simply and very inexpensive. Get a couple of cans of compressed air at and office supply store, Walgreen's and maybe Safeway for about $8 to $10 for the pair. They come with a little tube that plugs into the nozzle so once a month, turn off your laptop, push the tube into the nozzle and flush out all the dirt and dust from every vent you see. Turn the laptop over and look for vents or slots that allow heat to escape. There should be one inlet and oue outlet, but you will not be able to tell the difference. Blow the air in one of the vents and then go to where you see or feel the air escaping and blow in those vents. You may see some dust coming out and that is the whole idea. This dust clogs the cooling fins of the CPU and the fan blades so by blowing them out, you have made the cooling system more effective.
If you do this diligently every month or so, you will reduce the likelihood of a computer failure that is heat related.
If you want even further protection against heat damage, there is a great product on the market called a cooler pad that is made specifically for laptops. They start at about $30 and are probably the best money you will ever spend if you own a laptop. Cooler pads are lap pads with a couple of fans built in that run on your laptop USB power and provide a constant stream of cool air to your laptop. They keep the laptop so cool you can actually place the laptop on your lap without getting third-degree burns on your legs.
Many people, myself included, have a devil of a time typing or using the touchpad on a laptop so there are wireless mice and keyboards to help solve these issues at very reasonable prices.
Do you bring your laptop on business trips or vacations and hate to lug a backpack through the airport? Rolling laptop cases are the answer. They work great, but the nicer ones are a bit pricey. Some laptop sleeve manufacturers claim they have a product that can pass through airport security without having to remove the laptop from the case, but I wouldn't bet on that one.
If you are one of those laptop enthusiasts who want the latest gadget, I suggest you go to www.targus.com and have a ball. It is a Web site dedicated to laptops and, yes, they have Mac stuff.
Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services and lives in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (480) 753-7667.