Toshiba laptop batteries pose fire hazard

Sony's lithium-ion problems continue

Toshiba Corp. 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 Corp.

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 callback 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.

"Consumers should stop using the recalled batteries and contact Toshiba to receive a free replacement battery," the agency urged. Toshiba has posted a Windows utility that sniffs out recalled batteries; it can be downloaded from the BatteryCheck link at the bottom of this page. A toll-free number -- (800) 457-7777 -- has also been set up to take calls from users.

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 Inc., Dell Inc., Gateway Inc., and Lenovo Group Ltd. 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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