December 9th, 2009 [WRTG 3035] Technical Design and Communication A critique of the Rosewill® RNA-7000W laptop cooler Roderik Nelson Saleh Alvarado
[WRTG 3035] Design Analysis: Rosewill® RNA-7000WIntroductionLaptops offer great power to owners who transit much and need access to theirpersonal computer. These portable computers are powerful, but generate a lot of heat.The heat is undesirable, because it decreases the lifetime of internal parts of laptops. Inaddition, the user is also affected since the surfaces heat up. As a result, typingbecomes uncomfortable and resting the laptop on your lap becomes unbearably hot. Laptop coolers are often a useful accessory for owners of portable computers.Coolers are a proposed solution to the problem of heat that laptops create. The conceptis simple, it commonly involves a plate with one or more fans installed within to provideair cooling. The portable computer rests on this plate and meanwhile, it is cooled fromunderneath (where the heat-generating components are located). The heat issues of the portable computer have become a popular topic forimprovement. Laptop cooler manufacturers responded to the consumer’s feedback,much in satisfaction to the proverb that states: “necessity is the mother of all invention”.In effect, many cooling accessories are available to the laptop owner, but there is notelling what distinguishes the best products. This review of the RNA-7000W qualifies theproduct as an aid to the laptop consumer, whom looks for a reliable way to chill theirinternal temperatures.
[WRTG 3035] Design Analysis: Rosewill® RNA-7000WProduct OverviewThose whom expect a complex piece of cooling electronics will experience a surprise.Rosewill’s RNA-7000W is dead simple and doesn’t leave much to think about. Thepackaging reveals just one solid plate and a USB connector. The simplicity gives reasonto expect there’s maximum functionality for a minimum of learning on how to use theproduct. The cooling elements are found within the solid plate. The plate is made of polishedaluminum with an eye pleasing coating of shiny black. A plastic casing houses the twocooling fans as displayed in figure 1. Power is fed to the laptop chiller directly from the computer it is assigned to cool. AUSB cord transfers the electricity from a USB port on the laptop to an input on the backof the cooling accessory. Aluminum Silent Fans Plate USB connector Figure 1: First impression of the RNA-7000W
[WRTG 3035] Design Analysis: Rosewill® RNA-7000WUsabilityInstallationLittle can be taught on how to setup the RNA-7000W ready for use. That’s a statementregarding the simplicity of the design. The manual for use of the cooler counts only onepage and isn’t all that necessary. Most of what needs to be set up has been designedon principles of affordances and constraints (Norman 9, 60). The aluminum plate affords support and so, this plate is where you rest the laptopon. (Cooling is provided to the underside of the laptop; fans push air into the laptop’svents.) Once the portable computer lays supported by the solid plate, the two must beconnected by the USB cord. There does not exist confusion as to which end of the cordgoes to which port, for the design makes clever use of natural constraints. One end ofthe cord has a rectangular, USB interface and the other has a thin, cylindrical powerjack. On the laptop, there are many shaped ports and each has a symbol. One of thesesymbols is also imprinted on one end of the cord to imply that these two ends must beconnected together. The remainder must then be connected to the cooler, into acylindrical port. These constraints make it obvious and easy to install the USB connector and arehighlighted in figure 2. In fact, the usability of the product is enhanced by requiring verylittle thought process on behalf of the user (Krug 9). This step will be repeated manytimes, since the laptop is an object that is expected to be transported frequently.Usability in this process is thus critical. Fortunately you need not think in order to installthe product, which is a desirable trait amongst modern electronics. OFF – ON Switch Power Feed Figure 2: The back end of the laptop cooler
[WRTG 3035] Design Analysis: Rosewill® RNA-7000WOperationNorman’s gulfs of execution and evaluation are well bridged (Norman 49). Again,simplicity in the design avails usability. Once computer and cooler are connected, aswitch on the back of the chiller must be engaged to turn on the fans. There is only onecontrol on the RNA-7000W, so this is an easy task. There is practically no gulf ofexecution to be bridged. Instantly, the fans are powered after the OFF-ON switch istoggled. The execution is visible both by sound and touch. Although silent, the spin-upof the fans is audible when they turn on and the air flow can be sensed on the sides ofthe cooler. Evaluation is directly observable, when the cooler is in its steady operation. Thekeyboard on the laptop is where a user rests their hands. An owner of Rosewill’s cooleris sure to feel the difference in temperature by touch (the human hand is sensitiveenough to sense the desired temperature differences). Nevertheless, it will be difficult to evaluate the performance according to a globalstandard. Laptops differ greatly from each other; heat generation depends greatly onthe type of computer and even on the age. The air flow will be similar for all laptops, butthe effect of the cooling will cause discrepancies. Hence, questions on whether theRNA-7000W is cooling appropriately or not enough, must be reserved to personalperception and opinion. Unfortunately, the RNA-7000W does not allow the user to react upon evaluation.Owners of this laptop cooler may perceive that either, there is not enough or justenough cooling being provided to their portable computers. The fans, although silent,still make a noise that may not be desirable when executing small programs on thelaptop. This Rosewill cooler excels in its simple design. Yet, the design feelsincomplete, because there is no feature that allows you to react upon your evaluation. Abuilt-in slider could be included in future versions of this cooler. That way, if you feel likeyou need more air flow delivered, you can raise the fan speed. Similarly, if yourpersonal computer is idle or executing small processes, you may lower the fan speed(and make it quieter). In effect, this slider button comforts your perception and suits yourcooling needs better.Passive FeaturesRosewill’s cooler is an excellent product, but not solely due to its naked simplicity. Aplain, metal plate with two fans stuck to its belly does not make a superb design.Instead, the RNA-7000W has passive features that add to its value. Two passivetechniques that are implemented are discussed as follows. These techniques are mostlytools of emotional design.Support studsThe aluminum plate affords support, so it is made obvious that this plate is where thelaptop should rest on. The studs, shown in figure 3, personalize and refine theexperience. Where the bare plate affords a plain process of “putting” the laptop on top,the studs afford a more elegant process of “placing” a laptop on the cooler. The set upis refined and made more exclusive.
[WRTG 3035] Design Analysis: Rosewill® RNA-7000WAn exclusive feeling is enhanced in another way. The supports allow your RNA-7000Wto become unique. Portable computers are available in all kinds of sizes and thus, byfixing the stud’s location, you can customize your cooler to fit your laptop. Voila! Youhave converted Rosewill’s cooler into John Doe’s chiller. This characteristic is yetanother technique from successful minimalistic design.Air GroovesThe grooves shown in figure 3 trigger an emotional reaction. Experience (knowledge inthe head) has it that cool air flows through vents or passageways in cooling applicationssuch as air conditioning. The presence of the air grooves is welcome, because theyartificially enhance the function of the cooler. The grooves inspire the visual of cool airthrough vents (like an air conditioning unit), even though they hold no real function. Air Grooves Support Studs Figure 3: Passive features of the RNA-7000W
[WRTG 3035] Design Analysis: Rosewill® RNA-7000WConclusionSimplicity is central in the design of the Rosewill® RNA-7000W and that is exactly whatmakes it so great. Laptop owners are not looking for another intricate software that doesthis and that, but something that just gets the job done. The RNA-7000W delivers onthis demand effortlessly. Emotional triggers increase the value of the cooler. These triggers are seamlesslyintegrated into the design of the cooler and it’s all in name of successful, minimalisticdesign.BibliographyKrug, Steve. Dont Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.Berkeley: New Riders, 2006.Norman, Donald A. The Design of Everyday Things. New York: Basic Books, 2002.