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6/19/2007
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Toshiba Reports Sony Battery-Related Notebook Fire

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has listed 16 reports of Sony lithium-ion notebook batteries overheating.

Toshiba on Tuesday reported a Sony battery was responsible for a notebook recently bursting into flames, and said it would redouble its efforts to get customers to return the defective devices, which are the focus of the largest recall in the history of the computer industry.

The fire occurred May 24 and was later linked to a short circuit within the Sony battery pack, Toshiba said. The computer maker has had a recall program in place since late September 2006, when Sony launched a global replacement program.

Nevertheless, the most recent fire involved a notebook with the original Sony battery, and followed a similar incident in April in Japan that stemmed from an unreplaced battery, Toshiba said. As a result, the company has embarked on a new round of efforts to encourage customers to check their PCs and to get the batteries replaced if they're on Toshiba's list of notebooks with potentially defective batteries. Toshiba is replacing batteries without charge.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has listed 16 reports of Sony lithium-ion notebook batteries overheating.

Acer America is the latest computer maker to join Sony's replacement program, launching a recall of 27,000 batteries in April. In March, rival laptop maker Lenovo voluntarily recalled about 205,000 ThinkPad batteries that could pose a danger to customers. The battery recall was the second for Lenovo in six months.

Sony's first global recall of more than 10 million batteries came last year when power sources used in notebooks from several manufacturers, including Apple and Dell, began showing defects and overheating. It was the largest recall ever in the computer industry.

While the recalls haven't affected the number of notebooks sold, a survey by IDC found that 15% of corporate buyers and consumers would change brands to avoid potential safety problems. Such a change is enough of an impact to sway vendors' market share, IDC said.

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