CoolerMaster Notepal U2
Packaging and Contents.
Packaging and Contents
The Notepal U2 arrived in a large, hinged clear plastic sleeve. This doesn't really offer much protection, and is more for display purposes. The plastic isn't blister sealed, so opening it is easy and also saves you from having to rip it open like an angry bear.
Inside the box is the Notepal U2 itself along with a large elastic band. At first I was a bit confused as to what the band was for, but it's purpose will become apparent later. The anodised aluminium looks great, with the rubber feet helping to reduce vibrations and keep everything stable on your desk.
Flipping the U2 over we can see the fans used to help keep your notebook cool. The fans are slimline 80mm fans, and are hard wired into a USB cable. This is a bit of a shame, as it would have been nice to be able to change the fans, for ones with LED's or different levels of airflow/noise. A push button allows you to remove the fans from the main stand, so that they can be positioned pretty much anywhere. The system is incredibly good, and moving the fans around is a simple 10 second job.
As previously stated, the U2's fans are powered by USB. Thoughtfully, CoolerMaster have made this a pass-through connector, so you effectively don't lose any USB ports. I tested the U2 with my 16.4" Sony Vaio FW, which is pictured below. The stand is quite a lot smaller than the laptop itself, but it still offered fantastic support and the laptop was very sturdy when placed on top.
The U2's other purpose is as a support for your laptop when travelling. The laptop slips inside the U2, and is then held in place by the large elastic band. Unfortunately, you have to remove the fans to use the U2 in this way, and even when it is used it will only protect one side of the laptop. I got the impression this was a bit of an afterthought, and was simply added on as a tick box feature, rather than having any real thought over it. It is quite useful if you intend to transport your laptop and the U2, as it should save you a lot of space. Unfortunately, most laptop cases/pouches probably aren't designed for the extra thickness the U2 adds to your laptop, so it may or may not fit when carried in this fashion.
I think you'll agree that the U2 is a pretty smart looking product, and the decision to make it out of aluminium was a good one, as it gives it a quality feel, whilst also helping with the heat dissipation. My only gripe is the inability to change the included fans, which would have been nice. However, we'll see how the included units perform in the testing page...
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