While notebooks are supremely mobile, they aren't very comfortable to use at a desk. They were designed primary for portability, not ergonomics. As a result, notebook stands are gaining in popularity, as they allow notebooks to be adjusted to a comfortable viewing position. Some notebooks are also known to run pretty hot, and so far, we haven't seen a notebook stand that can serve the dual functions of elevating a notebook as well as cooling it at the same time. Until now, that is.
Of Fans & Plastique
The Cooler Master NotePal ErgoStand is a notebook stand that also functions as a cooling pad. On first sight, the NotePal ErgoStand looks nothing more than an oversized notebook cooling pad, but actually, there's a stand behind it that allows the notebook to be raised for a better viewing angle.
That aside, the NotePal ErgoStand has a 140mm fan that sits directly in the middle and is shielded by a piece of metal mesh. The fan's speed is adjustable and is relatively quiet even at maximum. There are four pieces of rubber mats on the mesh, which acts as props for the notebooks. This way, not only is your notebook kept scratch-free from the mesh, it is also slightly elevated for better air ventilation.
The NotePal ErgoStand is made out of mostly plastic. Now there's nothing wrong with that, but the quality of the plastic used here is decidedly poor and does not convincingly convey a feeling of solidity. In fact, it feels as if it could easily crack. Overall, the build quality of the Notepal ErgoStand is not quite what we expect from Cooler Master.
Function over Form
Fortunately, all is forgiven when you come to realize just how well it works. The ErgoStand accommodates 9 to 17-inch netbooks and notebooks, and it does so by having movable anti-slip props that keeps your them secure when in an elevated position - simple but highly effective. The NotePal ErgoStand has five different height settings, which should suffice for most users and circumstances.
Since the fan in the NotePal ErgoStand is powered by a single USB port, Cooler Master has conveniently provided an integrated four-port USB hub, so that notebook users, who are already low on USB ports, would not have to sacrifice one just for the NotePal ErgoStand. On top of that, there are also cable clips around the back for users to stow and manage their cables.
We must also commend on the excellent cooling performance. Using a MacBook Pro as our test unit, we averaged around 47 to 49 degrees Celsius. Without the NotePal ErgoStand, it would hover around 53 degrees Celsius. Of course, your mileage may vary, but our own experience suggests that it does reduce your notebook's temperature.
All in all, the Cooler Master NotePal ErgoStand is a well thought-out product, seeing that it has well placed rubber mats to cushion your notebook, cable clips for cable management and a built-in four port USB hub. And, flimsy plastics aside, the NotePal ErgoStand does a good job of propping your notebook up and keeping it cool.