More than four million Dell laptops are at the center of a global alert over batteries that can overheat and catch fire. Dell issued the biggest product recall in computer history after video footage showed a laptop bursting into flames during a conference in Osaka, Japan.
Similar incidents have been reported across the world. Dell said it had been told of six instances of batteries overheating, causing damage to furniture and belongings but no personal injuries.
Consumers are being urged to stop using the batteries immediately and to get in touch to obtain replacements. The company said today it was recalling 4.1m batteries for use in Latitude, Inspiron and Precision laptops. The batteries are also used by other companies including Apple, which said it was looking into the risk posed.
Dell blames the problem on the lithium-ion batteries made by Sony Energy Devices. This type of battery has been in use since the mid-Nineties and is often found in devices such as mobile phones and digital music players.
It is estimated the recall could cost Dell more than $157m without taking into account damage to the company’s reputation.
Spokesman Ira Williams said: ‘In rare cases, a short-circuit could cause the battery to overheat, causing a risk of smoke and fire. It happens in rare cases, but we opted to take this broad action immediately.’
Fears surrounding laptops emerged this month as pictures of some of the charred machines circulated on the internet. One man from Singapore told an Australian newspaper how his laptop caught fire as he was working late in his office.
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‘White smoke began to pour out of the machine, completely filling up the room, and there were flames coming up the sides of the laptop.’
The man said he grabbed the machine by its screen and carried it to a sink of water to douse the flames. But when he pulled it back out it began to smoulder again.
The recall involves 18% of Dell’s 22m notebook computers sold between April 2004 and last month. This is the third recall of Dell notebook batteries in the past five years.
Last December it recalled 22,000 notebook computer batteries over similar fears. The company also recalled 284,000 batteries in 2001.
It comes as a major blow to Dell which has recently lost ground to its leading rival Hewlett-Packard.
Potentially affected batteries were sold with the following models of Dell notebook computers or separately as secondary batteries:
Latitude: D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800, D810
Inspiron: 500M, 510M, 600M, 700M, 710M, 6000, 6400, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 9400, E1505, E1705
Precision: M20, M60, M70, M90
XPS: XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170, XPS M1710
In addition, these batteries may have also been provided in response to service calls. The batteries were shipped to customers between April 1, 2004 and July 18, 2006. The words “DELL” and “Made in Japan” or “Made in China” or “Battery cell made in Japan, Assembled in China” are printed on the back of the batteries. If your battery does not reflect one of these markings it is not part of this recall, and you are safe.
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