Hitachi recalls notebook batteries too

5th Oct 2006 | 23:00

Just when you thought it was safe to turn on your laptop

The latest instalment in the saga about exploding batteries is that Hitachi this morning announced that it is joining the long list of notebook manufacturers recalling batteries.

The firm said it would bring back 16,000 batteries, unsurprisingly made by Sony . Most of the units have been shipped to Japan.

According to Reuters : "Hitachi is in talks with Sony about who will foot the bill to replace the lithium-ion batteries". Oh, how we wonder; answers on a postcard please.

As reported earlier this week by Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun , Sony was aware of the problems with its notebook batteries as early as December last year but did little about it. A Dell notebook equipped with a Sony battery caught fire late last year.

Sony concluded that the battery was prone to overheating and the reason for the overheating was that metal particles had contaminated the battery during its production process.

But apparently Sony didn't check any of the batteries it had produced for any other manufacturers, since no other problems had been reported. Moreover, the report claims the company didn't properly investigate the electronic components and other hardware used in the Dell machines.

The paper claims that if Sony had addressed the faults with its batteries earlier, it could have avoided the major recall.

Hard facts hard to find

It seems that even Sony doesn't know exactly how many batteries could be affected. There are various differing figures on how many millions of batteries are involved. A spokeswoman for Sony also didn't have any info on the exact number. What is clear is that all affected batteries will be recalled and users will be getting a free replacement.

Richard Shim, a senior analyst with IDC , said: "The big issue is that while there is a small financial impact [to Sony as a company] compared to the perception impact, you have a number of significant brands that the consumer knows very well who were also involved in the recalls. They have basically blamed Sony for a poorly manufactured component.

"Sony is going to have to rebuild not just with consumers but with manufacturers," he said.

Among other manufacturers, Fujitsu is recalling 287,000 batteries featured in its Lifebook notebooks and Acer has declared it's looking into whether or not some of its notebook batteries need to be recalled. HP and Sony itself are so far the only manufacturers not to have issued a recall on their notebooks. Anna Lagerkvist

LaptopMobile computingHitachi
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