BitDepth 743 - August 10

Hardware stuff I work with constantly and heartily suggest.
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The hardware edition

NZXT’s laptop cooler is, quite possibly, the ugliest piece of technology you might ever put on your desk, but it’s unparalleled for cooling off hot portable computers. Photo courtesy NZXT.

This isn’t going to be a column about which brand of laptop I think you should be using or what kind of external hard drive you should be buying; those aren’t the questions that hard core tech heads ask each other. 
I really like Logitech’s MX mice, but I don’t think anybody’s likely to care. Here’s some stuff that I’ve found that some of you might find interesting and better yet, useful.

My laptop runs hard and two hard drive failures later, I finally began to figure out why. Most portables have cooling systems designed to keep them cool in average use, the processor is tasked with instructions fairly lightly with occasional spikes in demand.
My work was keeping both cores running at 100 percent for hours on end and case temperatures were soaring. This is a common enough issue that there are dozens of solutions to the problem. I’ve tried quite a few of these and most of them don’t work at all. 

The three 120mm fans of the NZXT ACC-NT-Cryo LX have been churning away on my desk for more than a year now, and the Cooler Master Notepal D1 gets stuffed in my bag when I work on location. The Cryo’s USB ports are useless and the D1 is just a bit underpowered for demanding work on location, but both are leagues better than any of the other cooling pads I’ve tried.

If you take photographs, you use batteries. Most cameras use proprietary battery modules, but your flash will normally accept ordinary AA batteries. You can save money, get faster recycling and keep more waste out of the landfill by using nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, particularly those with higher capacities, but managing rechargeables can be troublesome. 

Enter the La Crosse Technology BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charger. You can get a cheaper, faster and much simpler battery charger, but you won’t find many that have the diagnostic tools and restoration capabilities of the BC-9009. Deep restoration of fading NiMH batteries can take days, but the charger can also read the individual capacity of each battery and tell you when the cells are approaching their final days.
Even if you don’t crack open the considerably detailed manual, the default performance of the charger is significantly better than most rechargeable devices, particularly cheap “fast” chargers, which can actually ruin batteries over a few cycles.

And then there’s the flashlight. Equipment gets heavy quickly, and every additional ounce of gear must pack a punch. The Fenix E01 compact LED flashlight is quite possibly the most efficient bit of gear I own. It’s smaller than your little finger but punches out enough light to activate recalcitrant camera autofocus in the dead of night. It runs for hours on a single AAA alkaline battery.
Even casual users will find it small enough to hang on a key ring and powerful enough to actually be of use when it’s needed.

Attentive readers of this column will have divined a certain enthusiasm on my part for gear bags, particularly that curious nexus where portable computing and professional photographic gear collide.
I’ve long since abandoned any hope of finding a single bag that will allow me to carry enough of both, but the Tenba Messenger is the one I’m picking up most often these days. This is a bag that’s slim enough to fit into a Liat overhead baggage locker and capacious enough to hold a fairly hefty laptop and an average assignment’s worth of gear.

Cooler Master Notepal D1
BC-9009 AlphaPower Battery Charge
Fenix E01
Tenba Messenger bag
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