On Our Desk - 12

Written by Joe Martin

August 23, 2008 | 10:03

Tags: #bit-technet #cheap #gadgets #mouse-mat #on-our-desk #round-up

Notebook USB Fan with Light

Manufacturer: Unknown
Price: About £1.40 off the Hong Kong market

Harry picked these little spinners up when he was in Hong Kong, covering the Advanced Overclocking Championship 2008. He bought them back as presents, one for each of us – though it isn’t exactly clear why.

Was it the long, 300mm flexible arm? The bright LEDs that make the fins light up like a portable disco crashed into a fireworks factory? Or was it just that they were really cheap and he’d fallen under the impression that it was necessary to placate those of us in the office with gifts after his long absence?

I’d say it could be simply that they were cheap - $20 Hong Kong dollars, says Harry, which is about £1.40 – but that probably doesn’t factor into it much since Harry lost his wallet before the flight and had to go without it.

Still, here they are and appreciated they have become on the long, hot summer days. Despite all the tendencies and traditions of British weather, the bit-tech offices still get pretty warm in the summertime mainly because we’re constantly surrounded by the hottest tech, much of which is constantly cranking out benchmark results.

On Our Desk - 12 On Our Desk - Notebook USB Fan

The fans are obviously pretty basic and feature-wise they don’t have much to them. They are small fans with flexible fins, one of which has a set of flickering LEDs in it, on the end of a articulated arm. They are powered by a USB connection, either 1.0 or 2.0.

…And that’s it. There’s a little switch to turn the fan on and off, but that’s as far as the controls go. You can’t speed it up or slow it down, which is annoying since the fans spin so slowly that from anything more than two inches away they generate about as much air movement as a series of tranquilizer darts to the thorax.

Still, there are some upsides – especially in terms of the packaging, which is full of the most fantastically translated phrases you could ever hope to see, then litter it with spelling mistakes.

Take the instructions for example, which claim that this fan can create a ‘refreshign’ breeze and is perfect for ‘in airplane’ where it can create a ‘benefit from preventing eyesight’. Huh, blindness you say? Now we understand why Harry bought these for us all; when we can’t see he’ll promptly scarper with all our graphics cards! Well, we’ll get him…when we find him. Where's that light switch?

On Our Desk - 12 On Our Desk - Notebook USB Fan

Even the name of the product is riddled with typos – this is apparently a ‘Notbook USB Fan with Lighting’.

Now, part of me wants to be nice to Harry here. He got these presents for us out of the goodness of his heart and, even though I do keep taking Richards fan and using the flexible arm to scratch in those hard to reach orifices, I do actually appreciate the present. Nor do I want to start making a habit out of giving gifts bad reviews.

Unfortunately though, the fan just doesn’t do what it does very well. It can’t create a breeze and the fact that the flashing lights are constantly on means that the only way this fan will make you cooler is if it makes you have an epileptic fit and you land in a bathtub full of cold water.

Even the build quality is pretty low as we (not "we", just "Joe" - Ed) were promptly able to detach the motor and fins from the rest of the body, leaving us with a small rotating piece of steel powered by USB. Remarkably, this turned out to be far more fun than the intended application of the product and we promptly spent the next hour trying to attach all number of things to the tiny spinner in order to watch them comically fly off in all directions. We always were the type of kids who'd spend more of our Christmas holiday playing with the cardboard box rather than the presents that came in it.

In the end then this really is a situation where it’s the thought that counts more than the present. We appreciate the sentiment, but the fact of the matter is that we'd be better cooled if we spent the time training a flock of butterflies to follow us around, constantly flapping their tiny wings just a few centimetres in front of our faces. The butterflies can probably communicate better too.

Verdict: Cheap and cheerful, but likely to leave you sweating (although thankfully not blind).
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