Concave cooling pad with fan
I haven't tried the mini cooling device, a gel cooling pad or a flat pad, but I will tell you what works for me.
I use Belkin's cooling pad for my laptop. Refer to the design:
My 15.4" laptop overhangs both sides of the cooling pad, but I still receive adequate cooling. I think that with a 17" laptop you would be fine with this product.
This pad has a concave base and fan that blows air up to convect the heat away from the base of your laptop. This only works if you do not block the fan when you set down the cooling pad. However, there is a little stand that flips out to raise your cooling pad and allow it to sit directly on a flat surface and still blow air. You can use it on your lap without this stand flipped out, which I do almost all the time, but you must take care not to block the fan; it isn't difficult to do at all, but it does take a bit of thought before it becomes second-nature.
The pad is powered by your laptop through a USB cable. If you need to set the pad down in a way which blocks the fan, you can unplug the cable and still have your laptop partially cooled. Due to the concave nature of the cooling pad, the base of your laptop will still be in contact with air, albeit still air, not moving air. You can see how your base won't heat up as much as it would if it were sitting directly on a surface. This is the best feature of this cooling pad and sets it apart from flat pads.
There are two models of this design on the market, though the first may be off the shelves. In June 2009, I bought a model where one end of the USB cable plugs into a jack on the cooling pad, while the other goes into a port on your computer. I would advise not to purchase this model should you encounter it, as the jack easily comes unglued and makes it impossible to plug the cord in unless you disassemble the cooling pad and tinker with things (which isn't hard to do, but is a pain). The newer model has a better design. (I bought the new model August 2009) There is no jack for you to plug and unplug the cord from; the connection is secured inside the cooling pad. I haven't opened it up to see how secure it is, but I have had no problems with it coming unplugged, as I did with the earlier model. This new model also plugs into your laptop with a USB cable.
I bought both models at Wal-Mart for about $25. When I bought the new model, I didn't see the old model, so maybe it has been pulled from shelves. The older model eventually stopped working due to cord damage, which may have been my fault for tinkering with it, but because of its poor design, tinkering was unfortunately necessary. I've had the new one for over a month now and had no problems.
New model's Model #: F5L001-BLK (black) or F5L001 (white)
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