One of the greatest ironies in the computer world is that laptops should not be used on laps. Notebooks on the other hand, laptops smaller cousin, has a name that makes a little more sense because you can use a notebook on a notebook, but you should not use a notebook on a lap, and you can use a laptop on a notebook. Got it?
The problem comes from the way laptops and notebooks are designed to ventilate air; most machines have inflow vents on the bottom, truly a genius move. Laptop airflow works great only on a flat surface due to four little feet, each a few millimeters in height, that provide a gap of space between the bottom of the machine and the flat surface.
If the machine sits on an uneven fabric covered surface, like a lap, then the vent will become covered, proper airflow will cease, and overheating will occur. This is the reason you might have complained about a laptop becoming too hot after propping it up with a pillow. With the air vent covered, the machine has to work twice as hard, and if the vent stays covered for an extended period of time, it will harm your laptop.
Of course every laptop and notebook is designed differently, some models have the outflow vents on the bottom and the inflow vents on the sides, while others may have both vents on the sides. No matter the make or model, if any of the vents become covered, then this can spell bad news for your machine. When using a laptop you should also be aware of your surroundings, if you are using it on a floor or on a piece of furniture, then the intake vent will suck in debris like dust and hair, this can also contribute to overheating.
The solution is to always use your laptop on a hard surface, like a desk or table. A more convenient solution is a laptop pillow desk. This is basically a pillow with a hard surface attached to the top that allows you to safely use your laptop on your lap, your bed, or any plushy surface. Laptop pillow desks can be found at major retailers, and they range in price from $10-$30; the pricier ones even have bonus features like a pencil tray and cup holders.
Another solution is to trade out your laptop for a tablet. Tablets are even better for mobility because they don’t heat up as much, so they do not require air vents. The power of tablet computers are improving with each generation, but tablets still fall short of doing everything a laptop can do.
With proper laptop and notebook usage, you can get maximum performance from your computer and it will run smoothly for years. Think your laptop needs a tune up or a good cleaning? Contact TMS at 1 (626) 737-2960 and keep your hardware properly maintained.