You almost always have your laptop, iPod, and smartphone with you, but don't always want to lug them around. Is it okay to leave them in your car if it's particularly cold outside? What about in the summer heat? You know extreme temperatures aren't good, but how hot is too hot and how cold is too cold?
We've talked about temperature limits before, but more in the context of CPU temperature — leaving gadgets in your car in the cold or heat is a completely different matter, since it affects the battery, screen, and other parts. In general, you want to avoid extreme temperatures as much as possible, so no, I wouldn't recommend leaving it in your car. Here's a bit more detail on what your laptop or smartphone can take.
How hot is too hot?
We all know heat is bad for your tech. Not only can it fry the processor of your laptop or gadget, but it can lower your battery's life and even make the hard drive expand. And, if you live in a humid area, you also have to worry about condensation building up on the inside.
Generally, once it hits 90° or 95° Fahrenheit, you want to start shielding your laptop and smartphone from the heat. Remember that the inside of your car will get hotter than the outside, too, so even if it isn't quite 90° outside, you should keep it in your bag or leave it at home. And, if you absolutely must have it with you, do your best to keep it in the shade and out of direct sunlight. Laptop stands can also help a great deal.
How cold is too cold?
Cold is a slightly more interesting beast. In general, tech runs much better when it's cool than when it's hot, but when you start approaching extreme winter temperatures, the weather can be just as harmful as in the summer. If you leave your device in the cold for too long, its battery will die and its LCD screen will likely start having issues, and possibly die completely. Furthermore, if you leave it in the cold and then bring it into a warm room quickly, you can cause condensation to build up inside the device, which has the potential for more long-term damage.
PC World found that different gadgets can withstand different temperatures of cold, but to be conservative, we recommend taking precautions once the ambient temperature reaches freezing, or 32° Fahrenheit. Lower than that, and you'll slowly start to see different errors or issues until your gadget powers down altogether. When you can, keep your laptop in a case or bag and your smartphone in your pocket, to help shield it from the winds of winter.
Lastly, if for some reason you do expose your gadget to extreme temperatures, don't try to use it right away. Instead, let it warm up or cool down to room temperature before you turn it on. This will help protect your gadget from more lasting damage from things like condensation. In general, just use common sense: if your computer feels particularly cold or hot to the touch before it's even on, you probably shouldn't leave it alone in that weather.
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