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IBM and Lenovo Recall Sony Batteries 111

Posted by kdawson
from the things-that-go-boom dept.
digihome writes "IBM and Lenovo are recalling 168,500 ThinkPad notebook battery packs in the United States and another 357,000 worldwide, saying the Sony-made lithium-ion batteries can 'cause overheating, posing a fire hazard to consumers.'" The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more details.
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IBM and Lenovo Recall Sony Batteries

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  • E-gad... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Penguinisto (415985)
    Please, someone remind me to never, ever, ever buy a car battery from Sony. Ever.

    /P

  • by arivanov (12034) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:53PM (#16235521) Homepage
    Out of all big Sony battery customers this leaves only Acer and HP. Everybody else has recalled. Interesting - how long till they recall the remainders (they did partial "fire" recalls last year).
    • by Phil246 (803464)
      my acer uses sanyo batteries in the laptop ive got, so im safe \o/ unless sanyo are a sony subsidiary
      anyone know?
      • by karnal (22275)
        Hmmm.

        Sanyo does have all the letters of Sony in it. With an "a" added for good measure. Maybe you're on to something!

        I don't believe they're related, though.
    • What about Sony recalling their own stock? or are they not the type of company that eats its own dog food?
    • by AtomicDog (168155)
      Actually, HP/Compaq did recall many notebook batteries this year (April) due to fire hazards. I'm not sure if the batteries recalled were made by Sony, but the flaw seems to be the same.

      Some info on the HP recall:

      http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06145. html [cpsc.gov]
      http://bpr.hpordercenter.com/ebpr/landingpage.aspx [hpordercenter.com]
    • by Brobock (226116)
      I've had two sony laptops during this duration and never had a battery recall for sony built laptops.
    • by markana (152984) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @04:44PM (#16236555)
      Over at HP, Mark Hurd is reported to have said that he was sent the reports of batteries exploding, but he hadn't read them. Patricia Dunn is quoted as saying "I thought laptops burst into flames all the time. I still don't see anything wrong with it."

      Spokespersons at HP defended the batteries, saying that laptop batteries routinely exploded in use: "It's a standard industry practice".

      HP's stock rose on analysts predictions that sales of replacement laptops would surge following the wave of melted hardware. "They were going to have to buy all new laptops to run Vista anyway.", said one. "This way, the customers can stick it to their insurance companies."

    • by Monsuco (998964)
      Aren't Sony Viao laptops affected?
  • by piquadratCH (749309) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:53PM (#16235527)

    ...after reading this little story [engadget.com].

    I have a battery from Sanyo, unfortunately, so no free, new battery for me :(

  • by twifosp (532320) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:54PM (#16235535)
    Everyone ripped on Dell when they first announced the recall. Sony's PR said this was a Dell issue, and not a Sony one. There were even some pretty hilarious jokes about Dell Laptops and [insert exploding situation here].

    So why were they so bad for recalling the batteries months before everyone else again?

    Or I guess a better, and more on-topic, question would be: Why is it taking everyone else so long to innitiate a recall?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Penguinisto (415985)
      "Why is it taking everyone else so long to innitiate a recall?"

      Because recalls are ugly, expensive, lawsuit-exposing, and gives mostly bad PR to whoever has to initiate one. You get some small props for being responsible, but it sort of falls short in the big fat benefits vs. risks calculator.

      /P

      • by twifosp (532320)
        Possibly. But I doubt any of the big OEMs are footing 100% of the bill. If Sony ever expects to do business with them again, you know they are shouldering quite a bit of the cost, if not all of the actual part costs.
      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        Lawsuit exposing? Assuming your computer doesn't catch on fire from the problem, what is your cause of action? They're offering to replace the defective part for you at no charge.

        If your computer DID catch on fire from it, you may have a suit--but NOT recalling the batteries if you knew about the problem would open you to a far greater lawsuit than recalling them. If the fire occurred after the recall, you may even escape liability--at least in part.

        All that said, I can't agree with your conclusion t

        • Well, there's:

          Ford Explorer (which faced a TON of lawsuits before and after the recall)
          Vioxx
          a whole host of other drugs...

          I distinctly remember recent lawyer commercials trumpeting recalls as admissions of responsibility (anyone heard of James Sokolove? yeah, me too - now that his name is splayed across my TV screen quite often).

          Now take Joe Schmoe who shows up at the hospital with burns on his legs... and happens to own a laptop... (whether the burns were actually caused by the batteries or not)...

    • by Slightly Askew (638918) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @04:31PM (#16236281) Journal
      Why is it taking everyone else so long to innitiate a recall?

      Narrator: A new battery by my company ships out in a new laptop. The battery heats up. The laptop burns with all the data trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of batteries in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
      Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
      Narrator: You wouldn't believe.
      Business woman on plane: Which battery company do you work for?
      Narrator: A major one.

    • So why were they so bad for recalling the batteries months before everyone else again? Or I guess a better, and more on-topic, question would be: Why is it taking everyone else so long to innitiate a recall?

      If you go look back at the story, you see that Dell admits to having known about the problem 10 months before the recall and was accused of worse by a former tech [slashdot.org] at the time of recall [slashdot.org]. They had the volume of sales required to notice the problem but did nothing useful for at least a year.

      It is too

    • >> Why is it taking everyone else so long to innitiate a recall?
      Simple reason: you need a real world victim to force Sony to foot the bill. Or else, Sony will act as if nothing has happened.
    • by Alter_3d (948458)

      Why is it taking everyone else so long to innitiate a recall?



      A.... times B... times C.... equals X.... if X is less than the cost of a recall.. we dont do one.....
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Deathlizard (115856)
      Why is it taking everyone else so long to initiate a recall

      I don't know about anyone else, but I somewhat know Lenovo's side.

      Working for a Thinkpad University has a few benefits, one of them is talking to Lenovo Engineers directly at conferences, where we share our experiences with the Thinkpad with people inside the company. This results in better designs for our students. The R60 build quality I believe is an example of this, especially comparing it against the R51's we used in the past.

      Our last conferenc
    • It didn't really take Apple that long to follow, and given the numbers (4.x million for Dell; 1.x for Apple; ~.5x for IBM) one must assume that the fraction of volume to market share ( read expense ) isn't a primary motivating factor for Acer and HP. Only bad PR will be in the end. Last time this came up though, Google wasn't too helpful in digging up proprietary market analysis. One must pay for those numbers.
  • the Sony-made lithium-ion batteries can 'cause overheating, posing a fire hazard to consumers.


    I would [engadget.com] never have guessed. [howardforums.com]

  • I guess they can't do anything right anymore... Maybe they'll have better luck next year.
  • From Lenovo.com (Score:5, Informative)

    by E IS mC(Square) (721736) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:56PM (#16235593) Journal
    Their announcement here [ibm.com].

    This involves systems sold between February 2005 and September 2006, including:

    ThinkPad R Series (R51e, R52, R60, R60e)
    ThinkPad T Series (T43, T43p, T60)
    ThinkPad X Series (X60, X60s)

    Yes, my one month old T60 too is on the list. Though I will wait out till the initial rush dies out.
    • by powerlord (28156)
      :Looks at list from Apple, checks off MacBook from list: :Looks down at wife's Levano from a year ago. Checks off from list: :Looks at sheet: :Looks up in disbelief:

      BINGO! :p

      (now if only I could win something like "the lottery")
      • by mgblst (80109)
        Wow, it is usually the wife who gets the wrong computer. What happened, did she make you swap or did you lose a bet or something?
    • by Icculus (33027)
      Though I will wait out till the initial rush dies out.

      Why wait? My wife sent in the battery for her powerbook the day the recall was announced and got a replacement inside of a week. You won't need to send your faulty one in until you get the new one.

      • by Icculus (33027)
        oops, I should say she checked her serial # and it matched so she had the replacement shipped out. We didn't have to send in the bad one until we had a new good one.
    • by Junta (36770)

      "Yes, my one month old T60 too is on the list. Though I will wait out till the initial rush dies out."

      For tradition, shouldn't you have said:
      "Yes, my one month old T60 too is on the list. Though I will wait out till %@^@^%#@%@%@! NO CARRIER"
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by squiggleslash (241428)

      Probably worth pointing out that not all batteries for those particular models were built by Sony. I have a recent T60, and the battery's a Sanyo.

      You can determine whether the product number of your battery without even turning it over (or, in my case, coming home from work to take a look) by typing:

      $ cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/info

      at a GNU/Linux prompt.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ArtDent (83554)
        Or, in Windows, use ThinkVantage ThinkPad Configuration. Power Management > Battery Information, and look on the Information tab.

        Yay, I've got a Sanyo!
    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      Yes, my one month old T60 too is on the list. Though I will wait out till the initial rush dies out.

      I hope you don't mean that literally. I mean we're talking battery bombs here!
    • by kaiidth (104315)
      However, if you had a battery replacement from IBM or just plain bought a new battery for other similar models, you will possibly be affected too.

      My original laptop battery developed a fault pretty quickly. IBM replaced it. It seems that they replaced a weak battery with an explosive one...!
  • Not good for Sony (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PineHall (206441) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @03:58PM (#16235625)
    When I think of Sony, I think of rootkits, exploding batteries and a delayed PS3. Sony has some significant problems. I don't think I want to buy anything connected with the name of Sony.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You forgot Blu-Ray.
      • by kirun (658684)
        Be fair, Blu-Ray hasn't had time to fail yet. Wait until consumers have flipped their coin (though the chances of the proverbial coin landing on edge and people picking to stick with regular DVD are quite high)
    • by legirons (809082)
      "When I think of Sony, I think of rootkits, exploding batteries and a delayed PS3"

      Don't forget the digital music player that couldn't play MP3s
    • by lucifig (255388)
      Unfortunately for all of us, people with your knowledge probably account for less than 1/10 of a percent of Sony's consumer sales. And even those with the knowledge have to weigh it against that new $50 rebate on a home theater or buying that James Bond DVD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by chris_7d0h (216090)
      Since Sony went "digital" (minidisc) I have mostly associated Sony with obscure audio formats (atrac), lossy transcoding and impossible to get my music off the portable player. With Blueray, the perception of a anti-consumer company is strengthened even more due to all the DRM crap for thri higher fidelty video format.

      Piled on top of that your three examples and it's stupendously clear the company has as much allure as does the British kitchen.

    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      When I think of Sony, I think of rootkits, exploding batteries and a delayed PS3. Sony has some significant problems. I don't think I want to buy anything connected with the name of Sony.

      Add to this the worst CD/DVD media in the world. Their disks literally decay in 1-2 years, where all my other disks, in the same conditions, are in pristine state.
  • If not, why not? Are they not prone to the same defect that other OEMs have been subjected to? Or is Sony just being complacent? Either way, it's not a good thing.
    • Or maybe their own systems didn't ship with the lemon batteries that they gave to everyone else...
      • Or maybe their own systems didn't ship with the lemon batteries that they gave to everyone else...

        In that case, it would be Sony "not [being] prone to the same defect that other OEMs have been subjected to," and would look a whole lot like a supplier's sabotage of a competitor.

        I know if I was Dell or Lenovo or Apple, I would seriously consider terminating all POs with Sony's name on them.
    • by dreamlax (981973)
      Obviously they keep the good ones for themselves and sell the shit ones off for good prices.
    • by rh2600 (530311)
      I have a Vaio (I prefered my Dell, but thats another story). My battery is made in Japan. I think I read that the original dell batteries were manufactured in Thailand?

      So my guess is that the battery issue is not Sony in general, but Sony batteries manufactured at certain facilities?
    • by iabervon (1971)
      I think the defect is such that it depends on how battery packs are made from the cells. Sony probably kept their packs in safe configurations, while everybody else using their cells was less conservative. But note that laptop manufacturers don't seem to have recalled all batteries with Sony-produced cells from the relevant time period, so it seems like some pack designs happen to be safe.
  • From the CPSC website:
    Incidents/Injuries: Lenovo has received one confirmed report of a battery overheating and causing a fire that damaged the notebook computer. The incident, which occurred within an airport terminal as the user was boarding an airplane, caused enough smoking and sparking that a fire extinguisher was used to put it out. There was minor property damage and no injuries were reported.

    Can this become a threat to airline security?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by RevDobbs (313888) *

      I can see the movie quotes now:

      "Get these mother fucking Sonys off my mother fucking plane!"

    • a report of a ThinkPad T43 that caught fire at Los Angeles International Airport. This just in, FAA Bans laptop and PSP batteries because they are made by the same company. PSP Owners outraged.
  • It was a by-product of the latest line of Lenovo notebooks.
  • I think this really points out just how big of a problem energy sources are.

    We are having major problems with fossil fuels and the impact the byproducts of getting energy that way. Batteries, which are very important to many forms of electric cars, are very difficult to scale up without being dangerous in a small percentage of cases.

    Whomever finds the silver bullet of energy will become the next richest group in the world (and incidently save the planet from boiling).
  • Quick check (Linux) (Score:5, Informative)

    by toolz (2119) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @04:38PM (#16236423) Homepage Journal
    To quickly check (under Linux) if you are subject to the battery recall:

    $ grep model /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/info

    Then compare the output to this list:
    ASM P/N FRU P/N
    92P1072 92P1073
    92P1088 92P1089
    92P1142 92P1141
    92P1170 92P1169 or 93P5028
    92P1174 92P1173 or 93P5030
    The value returned is the ASM P/N (*not* the FRU!)
    • Although the ASM and FRU numbers give you a rough estimate, Lenovo is telling us this is not a reliable way to flag the battery, since some of the recalled FRU's do not have Sony cells.

      This is straght from Lenovo:
      Along with the part number, every battery has a unique identifier known as the 11S bar code. This bar code is key to identifying if the battery is affected by the recall. If you believe you have one or more of these affected batteries, please visit the recall web site at http://www.lenovo.com/batte [lenovo.com]
    • by phdhell (249045)

      Just a point, on breezy it appears that the info captured in the info file is the FRU *not* the ASM P/N.

      In addition, even if the battery P/N match it does not necessarily mean that the battery is subject to a recall. I spent a couple of hours this morning and of the 15 or so batteries with the ASM:92P1088 FRU:92P1089 match only 3 were subject to a recall. However http://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Tp_smapi/ [thinkwiki.org] looks very interesting in this regard.

      Geoff

  • by katanan (764663)
    I remember when the Dell recall was initiated the mailing list I am on proclaimed "oh my god dell laptops explode, dell sucks"

    when Apple recalled the general consensus was: "yay new battery!" ...hah
  • Actually... (Score:3, Funny)

    by d3m0nCr4t (869332) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @05:22PM (#16237167)
    I think Sony has succeeded to implement a DRM rootkit into their batteries... One illegal MP3 or movie and BANG !!!
  • by d3xt3r (527989) on Thursday September 28, 2006 @05:30PM (#16237329)
    If you're running Linux and want to check your battery model number without powering off.
    1. Open up a shell
    2. Type: cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/info
    3. Look for the line labled model number:

    My output is listed below and does not appear to be affected ...

    cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0/info
    present: yes
    design capacity: 84240 mWh
    last full capacity: 79610 mWh
    battery technology: rechargeable
    design voltage: 10800 mV
    design capacity warning: 3980 mWh
    design capacity low: 200 mWh
    capacity granularity 1: 1 mWh
    capacity granularity 2: 1 mWh
    model number: 92P1133
    battery type: LION
    OEM info: Panasonic

    The list of recalled models is here [cpsc.gov].

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by pingveno (708857)
      For the Windows users, the Power Manager (double click the battery with the green bar in the corner) has a battery information tab that does basically the same thing.
  • I've yet to hear about recalls for laptop batteries in actual Sony laptops. Are the batteries actually better?
  • Sony has announced that the PS3's price will increase another $100 at each price point. A sony spokebot said this is entirely unrelated to the fact that they're up to their asses in explodable batteries and red ink.
  • by Zugok (17194)
    I have 3 T43s and and 2 T42s. I swapped batteries between two laptops earlier this week and I can't remember which ones :(
    • by mgblst (80109)
      Just go to the Lenovo webpage and run the program - it works on T42s as well.

      YOu should check T42s anyway, if you bought them 2nd, since they may have had their batteries replaced.
  • Hmmm, looks like Sony beat the Chinese to it and developed the first fusion batteries...
  • Sony's 2 stage DRM plan:

    Stage 1 "Operation Rootkit"
    Stage 2 "Operation Fry The Thieving Bastards"
  • OK so maybe I'm being odd here, but why no recall from Sony on their own laptops?

    Don't they use their own batteries, or are they somehow different to the ones they sell to other people???
  • I wonder when people are going to realize that modern laptop batteries are simply difficult to design because of the ridiculous heat involved both in the battery, but also in the chips, which put out more heat but are designed into a thinner and thinner case -- and stop blaming companies when the thin, powerful, long lasting laptop they demand from manufacturers has a problem with fires?

    Is that about every laptop manufacturer on the planet yet in the past year or so? Can we finally just accept that you're g

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