Toshiba laptop batteries pose fire hazard

Sony's lithium-ion problems continue

Toshiba has recalled more defective laptop batteries, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said last week, the latest move in a long-running problem with lithium-ion batteries made by Sony.

According to a warning from the CPSC, batteries in some of Toshiba's Satellite A100, Satellite A105 and Tecra A7 notebooks built between January and April 2006 pose a fire hazard from overheating. Approximately 1,400 portable computers are affected by the recall, said the CPSC.

The batteries due for call back are a subset of a recall issued by Toshiba less than four weeks ago that wasn't publicized by the CSPC. Then, the Japanese computer maker listed 17 different laptop lines as potentially equipped with defective batteries. An update to the Toshiba support document a day after the initial July 17 alert added the three systems called out by the CPSC last Thursday. The agency gave no explanation for the weeks-long delay between Toshiba's admission and the CPSC recall warning.

A Toshiba spokesperson said Australian customers are affected, but only in small numbers.

"Toshiba Australia is continuing to support the Sony voluntary battery replacement program/s, as announced on 28th September 2006. Customers wishing to participate in Sony's Voluntary Battery Replacement Program can download a utility and instructions for this program via the Toshiba support website www.isd.toshiba.com.au/sonybattery or www.isd.toshiba.com.au/battery2007"

Toshiba said that the recent recalls were not connected to the much larger recall of Sony-made batteries in 2006. Then, Toshiba recalled more than 1 million battery packs, and was only one of several notebook makers -- Apple, Dell, and Lenovo Group were among the others -- forced to recall Sony's batteries.

In May 2006, a Toshiba laptop that burst into flames also prompted the company to urge users to replace defective batteries. The laptop that caught fire then was running a Sony battery pack on the 2006 recall list.

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Gregg Keizer

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