How many times did your iPad overheat in the airplane this year?
If you answered “None,” congratulations. You might not need something as niche as an iPad cooling unit.
The cooling mount is a plastic holder with small fans installed in the back. When powered on, the fans circulate cooling air against the device.
Why is this important? Because an iPad will shut down in a red-hot minute, pardon the pun. Once the temperature exceeds “comfortable” in the cockpit, you run the risk of losing your charts until you can get the unit cooled down. That’s not always an easy thing to do, though directing an air vent at the device generally helps. But that can take several minutes.
I purchased the X-naut for iPad mini in July prior to departing on a trip to Oshkosh, Wisconsin. I had several previous experiences where the iPad conked out on me. Homemade attempts to address the problem—including cool packs and a battery-operated fan—did not work.
The X-naut mount for the iPad mini operates on four AA batteries, or it can be plugged into a USB port. The batteries lasted through a 12-hour round trip to Wisconsin from Maryland. A test button indicates whether batteries are strong, low, or need to be replaced.
The iPad functioned as long as the unit was turned on. When I forgot to switch it on, the iPad overheated. After switching on the X-Naut, the iPad cooled down within a few minutes. The mount holds the iPad securely, but the device is easily inserted and removed.
The seven-inch mount is not a kneeboard, but you can purchase a kneeboard kit. You can also mount it in the cockpit via RAM or MyGoFlight hardware, which is sold separately.
The unit is $179.99 for a piece of plastic with two fans. The price increases to $199.99 for bigger iPads. X-naut offers discounts to primary student pilots.
There’s nothing directly comparable with X-naut on the market. Guardian Avionics sells a panel mount with fan for the iPad mini for $199, but that price gets you the mount only; you’ll pay extra for power supply and cables, and of course to install it.
The X-naut mount does exactly as advertised, and does so efficiently. Pricey though it may be to some, it does the job.