From A Daughter

Gadgets And Gifts

Why Choose A Halogen Oven?

What Is A Halogen Oven?

big boss halogen ovenHalogen ovens are basically large glass bowls, typically about 12 quarts in volume, which sit on a plastic cradle. They have a plastic lid which contains a halogen light bulb and a fan with temperature and timer controls on the outer surface of the lid.

The halogen light bulb acts as a heat source – and it provides intense heat from the instant it’s turned on; there’s no need to wait for a halogen oven to heat up like you would have to with a conventional oven. The halogen light uses infra-red radiation to cook food and the fan circulates the air within the glass bowl to ensure that heat is evenly distributed.

As you can see from the image top right, the bowl is easily large enough to cook a large chicken. You can cook the vegetables in the halogen oven as well if you like.

halogen oven with accessoriesIt’s also possible to cook larger items, say a seventeen pound turkey for example, by fitting a stainless steel extender ring on between the top of the bowl and the lid.

Halogen ovens are inexpensive. They fit right on top of your kitchen worktop; there’s no need to modify cabinets or build them in. You can even take them with you if you move, or if you go away for a short, self catering trip.

Why Choose A Halogen Oven?

Halogen ovens offer their users many benefits. The main attraction is that, unlike a microwave oven, you can cook anything in a halogen oven that you would in a conventional oven. You’ll get crisp, golden poultry, French fries, pizza, roast joints, steamed fish, baked potatoes, breaded chicken, brownies, muffins, biscuits – anything you can think of basically – from your halogen oven.

Versatility isn’t where it stops with halogen ovens though – because they heat up instantly and use fan assisted intense heat from the halogen bulb, you’ll be able to cook meals at close to microwave speeds. In a nutshell, you get the best of both worlds, the versatility of a conventional oven and the speed of a microwave.

And because of the shorter cooking time, plus the small size of the glass bowl compared to a traditional oven, you’ll also use less energy cooking your food. Most manufacturers claim a 75% reduction in energy usage when compared with cooking the same recipe in a traditional oven.

Finally, halogen ovens can help you to eat more healthily. You can prepare food using very little oil. You can air fry French fries using no more than a spoonful of oil for example. Likewise, popular dishes like breaded chicken can be air fried oil free. You can enjoy the foods that you like without having to feel guilty or worry about your fat intake.

Halogen ovens are easy to clean when you’re done. They have a self cleaning mode where you just add water and detergent to the bowl, set the temperature control to clean and set the timer to ten minutes or so. You can also just take the bowl and pop it into your dishwasher or wash it in the sink if you like.

Here’s a short demo:


Halogen Oven Benefits Summarized

As you can see, halogen ovens offer lots of benefits. Here’s a brief summary of what they can do for you:

  • Prepare any food that you would normally cook in a conventional oven.
  • Save time
  • Save energy
  • Save money
  • Eat healthy meals
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean

Halogen ovens are great little kitchen helpers. To be honest, I don’t know how I got by before I got one – I use it all the time now. The main oven is rarely used and the microwave is mainly used for heating things up, like vegetables for example.

These little ovens are ideal for any kitchen. You’ll use it a lot. They are definitely a good idea for smaller kitchens as they take up so little space – think student dorms, works kitchens etc.

However, even large kitchens will definitely benefit from one of these. They can be a really handy second oven when you have a house full of guests over for family events.

Here’s a quick demo of how easy it is to cook a chicken in a halogen oven:


Laptop Cooling Pads

Why Use A Laptop Cooling Pad?

laptop cooling pad in useI love my laptop. It’s a great device which lets me have computing power whenever and wherever I need it. Don’t know what I would do without it quite frankly.

However, if you’ve ever used a powerful laptop balanced on your knee for any length of time, you’ll be only too well aware of just how quickly these cool gadgets can become uncomfortably hot. They can be very uncomfortable to use on your knee – even after just a short period of use.

Modern laptops are getting more powerful all the time, which is great, everybody wants more processing power. The trouble is that more power means more heat generated, and that has to be cooled.

Unfortunately, there’s a definite limit on the size and weight of any laptop. We all want them to be easily portable so that we can use them on the go. The end result is that, due to a lack of physical space, laptops are often fitted with smaller cooling fans than the equivalently powered desktop would be. That’s why laptops get so hot.

And it’s not just a matter of excess heat making your laptop uncomfortable to use. Most electrical and electronic gadgets, computers included, die of old age; old age caused by heat. Generally speaking, the hotter any electrical device operates, the faster it ages and the faster it fails.

And, as if that wasn’t bad enough news, the relationship between temperature and the rate of ageing in non-linear. A relatively small increase in temperature can often lead to a much greater increase in the rate of life usage and seriously reduce the working lifespan of your laptop.

Fortunately there is a simple solution; use a laptop cooling pad.


Different Types of Laptop Cooling Pads

You can get yourself a laptop cooling pad for just a few dollars. It will make your laptop run a lot cooler, extend its life and help to protect the precious data that you have stored on its hard drive. When you think about how much your laptop costs, not to mention how important the data stored on its hard drive is, a laptop cooling pad looks like a very smart investment.

laptop cooling pad passive logitechThere are two basic types of laptop cooling pad; passive and active.

Passive Laptop Cooling Pads

Passive laptop cooling pads have no fans fitted. They provide a firm surface for your laptop to rest on and ensure that there is sufficient space underneath the laptop for cooling air to circulate freely.

You might be surprised at just how effective that can be. If you use your laptop on your knee, it’s easy for your jeans, skirt or chinos to rumple up a little and that can impede, or even completely block, the flow of air into the cooling vents of your laptop.

The simple act of putting your laptop on a hard surface can help it to run quite a bit cooler. Passive laptop cooling pads are fairly simple devices and many of them are easily transportable.

They draw no power, so they won’t drain your battery – and since they have no fans fitted, they make no noise. They might be a good solution for smaller, slightly less powerful laptops. They may even be helpful for use with powerful laptops which are only used for short periods of time at any one sitting.

Active Laptop Cooling Pads

targus lap chill matActive laptop cooling pads are fitted with one or more fans which drive large amounts of additional cooling air into your laptop’s cooling vents. The power for the fans is normally obtained by connecting the cooling pad to a spare usb port on your laptop.

Some laptop cooling pads are fitted with a “through” usb connector so that you don’t lose a port. Some even have usb buses fitted on them, and possibly cable tidies as well.

Active cooling pads are ideal for large, powerful laptops. The extra cooling air that they direct into your laptop’s cooling vents will really make a big difference to the operating temperature of your computer.

Most laptops have their cooling inlet vents on the underside of the device and the cooling air exhaust vents on the side. That means that active laptop cooling pads usually direct the air directly upwards, towards the base of the laptop.

There are some laptops (less than 10%) which have the inlet vents on the side and the outlet vents on the underside. In this case, a cooling pad which draws air downwards, away from the laptop, is what’s required.

If you’re not sure what type you have, you can hold your hand near the side vent. If you can feel warm air blowing on your hand, then that’s the exhaust vent. If you feel warm air blowing from the underside of the laptop, then the exhaust vent is on the bottom and you need to draw air away from your laptop.

You can also hold a sheet of single ply tissue near to the vents. This will be sucked in towards the inlet vent and blown away from the exhaust vent.

Some laptop cooling pads are adjustable. You can vary the speed of the fan as required (because the amount of heat generated will depend on how hard your laptop is working at any moment in time). You can even vary the direction of the airflow in some models – see the short video below:

Laptop Cooling Pad Summary

A laptop cooling pad will help your laptop to run quite a bit cooler. As a result, it will last a lot longer and be much less prone to thermal failure.

When you consider how much your laptop costs, and how important all of the information on it is to you, investing a few dollars in a cooling pad makes a great deal of sense.

Are E-Readers Good For The Environment?

kindle 4 ereaderI’m a keen reader and my e-reader is one of my very favourite gadgets. I love the convenience of being able to carry my own personal mini-library of books around with me wherever I go. The fact that my e-reader is a good bit smaller and lighter than most of the paperbacks, and all of the hardbacks, that I used to read is a big plus.

The screen is great to read on and the battery will last for weeks before it needs to be charged up again. I’m using a Paperwhite at the moment, which is the best ereader for me as it can be read in bright sunlight or dimly lit rooms.

Although it wasn’t the primary reason for choosing to switch to e-readers and e-books, I think that there are definitely potential environmental benefits from e-readers and e-books. Digital reading is not totally green of course; the e-reader hardware uses materials.

The displays and the batteries in particular use some fairly rare materials. Additionally, e-readers require power to operate – not much admittedly, but the batteries do still require to be charged once every few weeks or so.

On the other hand, e-books do not use paper, ink or bindings. The printing process also uses large amounts of energy – and some fairly nasty chemicals. What’s more, because printed books are physical products, they require to be delivered by road and/or rail. That can double their carbon footprint. And if you get in your car, drive to the store, buy a book and then drive home again, the carbon footprint just gets bigger and bigger.

It’s not an exact science, there are a lot of variables which are very difficult to determine. One physical book may be lent and relent several times. It may eventually find its way to a second hand bookstore and get a whole new lease of life. However, it’s also possible to share e-books these days – and it’s becoming increasingly common to do so. It’s really quite normal for one e-book to be read by several family members, often using a number of different devices to access it.

Another variable of course is the exact amount of materials used in the production of e-readers. Amazon, the leading manufacturer, has not, as yet, disclosed the carbon footprint of its Kindle reader – which may or may not be the best e-reader (according to your own opinion), but which is undeniably the most prolific – and therefore the most relevant for the purposes of this discussion.

Notwithstanding the lack of firm information, a survey by the CleanTech Group assumed that a Kindle reader has an environmental footprint equivalent to 168 kg of CO2 over its lifecycle and that a standard printed book had a carbon footprint of 7.5 kg of CO2. You will see these numbers quoted in various other studies.

Unsurprisingly, the e-reader hardware has a significantly higher carbon footprint than a single physical book. Of course, the e-reader will be used to access more than one book, which is where it earns its environmental stripes. Using the figures above, if you read more than 22.4 e-books over the lifetime of your reader, you will be better off, in environmental terms at least, than if you were to buy the same amount of physical books.

In a way, that’s an unsurprising answer. Common sense would dictate that any benefit derived from using e-readers and e-books would be variable according to the number of books the reader hardware is used to access. It’s probably worth pointing out that there have been other studies, some of which have arrived at a different “break even” point. I have seen some estimates as low as 14 and others as high as 50.

It’s also worth noting that, whatever the true figure, e-readers achieve their environmental benefits thanks in large part to their miserly use of energy in normal operation. Because e-ink technology displays only draw power when the display is being updated, e-readers use very little power. That’s why they can go for weeks between battery charges.

Were you to decide to use a tablet computer, or even a mobile phone, to read your e-books, then the figures would be different again. The hugely increased energy usage of that lovely color touch screen device (expect to get a few hours rather than weeks between charges for both tablets and mobiles) will mean that you need to read a lot more books to get to the environmental break even point.

However, returning to the main question, there seems to be little doubt that e-readers and e-books have the potential to provide environmental benefits when compared to reading printed books. So, whether you decide to go with “e-books or tree books” will very much depend on just how many you read in a year.

Personally speaking, I read an average of at least a book a week, so an e-reader is definitely the best choice for me. Not only am I being a little bit greener, but my living space is a lot less cluttered!