More Topics

Don't drop the ball over laptop lurgy

Overheating laptops are the latest in an ever-lengthening list of IT health hazards. Keep cool. It's not as bad as it seems
Written by Leader , Contributor

The latest health warning for computer users is that hot laptops can affect men's reproductive capacity through a combination of compression and cookery. We are deeply concerned, not so much for the efficacy of our own peripherals but for the effect such a scare may have on the market.

Although the news may promote sales of the more powerful notebooks, among those tribes in Papua New Guinea where ZDNet UK's well-travelled editor informs us sun-dried human testicles are considered the tastiest of treats, it's not a story that will play well among road warriors.

In today's health-and-safety-obsessed society, there is every danger that boil in the bag syndrome will bring down official sanctions on the makers of laptops -- warning labels, type approval for special cooling mechanisms, even outright bans. We prefer instead to applaud the attitude of the prolific Paul Cook, MD of Acer UK, who sticks up for his industry by offering three healthy children -- and more to come -- as evidence that laptops are no threat to their user's virility.

Of course, solitary counter-examples are no answer to properly conducted epidemiological studies -- yet there has been no such study of laptop users. There are risks in every human activity, and IT is no exception: if all the scares were to come to pass, the average computer user would be fat, blind, paralysed and hairless through radiation, RSI, monitor eyestrain and lack of exercise. In such a case, an inability to reproduce is moot. Put in their proper context, however, these risks are easy to avoid if they are significant at all. Your journey to work remains far more dangerous than anything you might do when you get there.

We don't wish to breed complacency, but common sense remains the best cure. If you experience threatening warmth from the top of your lap then shift position, take a break, or use a magazine or newspaper as a fertility firewall. Be comforted by the fact that even when overheating causes problems, matters return to normal after a period of properly cooled operation.

So put all such worries aside. Enjoy the benefits of today's splendid portable technology, and trust that given half a chance your even more brilliantly designed biology will take care of itself. Unless of course you're travelling to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, in which case we recommend you take paper and pencil.


Editorial standards