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Sony Announces Global Battery Recall 109

Posted by Zonk
from the fewer-explosions-has-to-be-a-good-thing dept.
snafu109 writes "Since the laptop battery recalls initiated by Dell, Apple, IBM/Lenovo, Toshiba & Fujitsu, some may have wondered whether the entire lot should be recalled. Well, over at MarketWatch, a new article reports just that. 'Sony said Thursday it will initiate a global replacement program for certain battery packs that use its lithium-ion cells in notebook computers in order to address concerns related to recent over-heating incidents.' In related news, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has released some tips on how to lower the risk of your laptop batteries exploding, no matter who the manufacturer."
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Sony Announces Global Battery Recall

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  • by RingDev (879105) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:43AM (#16246075) Homepage Journal
    but this is still going to be one hell of a bill.

    -Rick
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Doc Ruby (173196)
      When looking at energy efficiency of power products, it's important to include the costs of manufacturing, maintenance and disposal. These true costs are what kills many power techs, like nuclear, most PV solar, and, say, slave boat rowers.

      I wonder how much energy will be spent per battery, including roundtrip airfreight fuel and your reading this message that I write, before the battery's current lifecycle is over.

      Of course those hidden costs aren't part of our decisions when we buy these devices to stay r
      • by FirstOne (193462)
        PV is recyclable,

        Aluminum frame.. no brainer.. (scrap dealers will pay you $~0.50lb)..
        Clear Glass. Another no brainer..
        Resin backing. (Add some solvent and make it into another PV panel.)
        Remaining Silicon and Copper.. Easily recycled.

        As for True Costs.. tack in the costs of GW..
              and all the Fossil fuel solutions fly right out the window.

        Just for grins..
          What percentage of earth orbiting satellites are powered by anything but PV?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Control Group (105494)
          What percentage of earth orbiting satellites are powered by anything but PV?

          I hope you're not seriously implying that the relative performance and cost characteristics of PV in orbit, where the cost per kg of payload at launch is astronomical (har!), the environment they operate in varies in temperature by hundreds of degrees, available sunlight is completely unfiltered by atmosphere, and there is zero chance of replacing spent fuel (see point 1)somehow translates meaningfully to their performance character
          • "and there is zero chance of replacing spent fuel"

            I do believe the chance is decidly non-zero.
            Very very small, maybe, but still greater than zero none the less.
            -nB
            • All right, point taken. I was, perhaps, exaggerating slightly. For effect.

              Mea maxima culpa, and all that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Doc Ruby (173196)
          These materials are recyclable, which is certainly a better setup than before. But my point is the energy costs of recycling. How much energy is consumed in remanufacturing PV into a second duty cycle? Per energy produced in its prior cycle? Plus original manufacture and other maintenance? This is not a rhetorical question - I've spent dozens of hours, maybe hundreds, over the past 5-10 years trying to get those numbers for my own construction plans.

          A more rhetorical question is the energy budget of the PV
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Moofie (22272)
          That solvent for your resin isn't exactly Perrier, so you have to figure out something to do with that. Semiconductor fabrication isn't exactly made from angel farts, either. Depending on how you do the math, PV can be pretty costly.

          "What percentage of earth orbiting satellites are powered by anything but PV?"

          When you don't have to worry about an atmosphere, or mass production, and you can't really refuel the thing, your solution set changes. PV is a really good alternative for satellites. It's less ide
        • by Rogerborg (306625)
          > What percentage of earth orbiting satellites are powered by anything but PV?

          Slightly less than there used to be [wikipedia.org].

      • To be fair though, you have to look at it as an opportune expense. The energy would be spent in any case, but is this the most efficient use or process?

        Like you samples, it takes a lot of energy/emissions to create a solar array. That 'wasted' energy reduces the total life cycle energy performance of solar arrays. But is the final performance better or worse than a coal burning alternative? And depending on what life cycle? (Energy, longevity, emissions, cost, prof fit, etc...)

        It takes a lot of energy to cr
        • by Doc Ruby (173196)
          Well, that's pretty close to what I'm saying. The "life cycle" of the product is defined regardless of the costs:benefits tracked in that cycle, but they must be measured against one another. And yes, they must be measured against both perfect maximum efficiency, and the alternatives - including doing nothing.

          In the case of solar, 15% efficiency of energy production across a 20 year lifecycle does look like a losing proposition compared to the energy costs of manufacture, deployment, maintenance and recycli
        • by FirstOne (193462)
          "To be fair though, you have to look at it as an opportune expense. The energy would be spent in any case, but is this the most efficient use or process?"

          Large scale Recycling as by far more energy efficient. 5x energy savings is typical. I suggest you do some research on it.

          Note: Most published EROI calcs for PV are somewhat out of date and somewhat misleading. Those old calcs use national(lower 48) solar flux averages, fixed mounting, and based on wasteful manufacturing tech.

          My EROI calcs would include
  • quote (Score:5, Funny)

    by notea42 (926633) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:45AM (#16246105)
    Favorite Quote from the Consumer Products Safety Comission: "Computer batteries can get hot during normal use. Do not use your computer on your lap." Not much good as a LAPtop, then.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chode2235 (866375)
      Thats why they are all called notebooks now. You aren't supposed to put them on your lap, but keep your notes in them...
    • Re:quote (Score:4, Informative)

      by badfish99 (826052) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:26AM (#16246901)
      No, don't use it on your lap, unless you want to suffer the fate of this man [theregister.co.uk], who burned a ... er ... sensitive part of his anatomy.
      If the battery bursts into flames, you definitely don't want it on your lap.
    • by Bob_Villa (926342)
      I like the T42 from IBM (I guess now Lenovo makes them). They vent the heat out the side through a little air vent so you can have it in your lap and it doesn't get hot. I know there is still the danger of the battery exploding, but it is a nice touch, plus it makes for a great handwarmer in the winter.
      • by rizzo420 (136707)
        most newer laptops have side vents. the batteries still get warm though and if you put the laptop on a soft surface (like a bed or couch), the laptop usually sinks in far enough to restrict the airflow.

        i use my HP laptop on my lap all the time, but i make sure that the vent is hanging off the side of my leg, keeping the warmest part of it off of me and allowing air to flow.
  • by general scruff (938598) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:46AM (#16246127) Journal
    Ok, here's the deal. Now sony is going to have millions of highly explosive batteries. Who thinks this might not be a good thing...

    Today: Rootkits, and DRM
    Tomorrow: Holding the world hostage with boiling lithium..

    eeek...
    • by fistfullast33l (819270) on Friday September 29, 2006 @12:29PM (#16247983) Homepage Journal
      I for one will never give into their demands. My Dell will never use DRM'd mus...BOOM... %^%@13#^$3@#$*^&^NO CARRIER
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SydShamino (547793)
      In unrelated news, Sony announced today a movie rental program featuring their latest Digital Rights Management scheme. Each movie cartridge features an embedded power and monitoring system; if any attempts are made to copy the movie or circumvent the protection, the movie implodes to ensure that the copyright holder's rights are maintained.

      As part of their environmental initiative, Sony has also announced that they secured a source of recycled power supplies and detonation units for this new program.
    • hey, they're used to make stuff blow up, what could be better? sony makes out like a bandit selling to a bandit. strong buy on sony US certificates. they can even throw in the source code for their rootkit!
  • why (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Amouth (879122) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:47AM (#16246141)
    It looks to me like they are trying to save face here.. though i don't think it will help much..
    Sony just keeps digging a bigger hole each way you look... I have to wonder if the exec's arn't stipping the company apart from the inside
  • by k4_pacific (736911) <k4_pacific AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:49AM (#16246183) Homepage Journal
    Sony announced today that, as part of their Global Replacement Program, they will be replacing the entire globe. "Yes, we screwed up so badly, that it is cheaper to leave and start a new planet than to fix everything that Sony has done wrong," said a Sony representative. Among Sony's past transgressions include rootkit-enabled laptop batteries, exploding CDs, and firing Nellie McKay. "On our new planet, we will build a Sonyful utopia, a planet by Sony, for Sony forever. A DRMed paradise for all to behold."
  • by shoolz (752000) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:50AM (#16246199) Homepage
    Wow, those suggestions were really useful and non-obvious. But here's the few big ones they missed that you might not know about:
    • Never rip a battery in half (while the laptop is running);
    • Do not boil your battery or place it in a dishwasher;
    • Never use your battery as a dog chew-toy;
    • If you have a spare battery, never staple it to your laptop case - store it in a side pocket instead.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Do not taunt your Sony battery
      • by Ponga (934481)
        Okay, I *HAD* to reply to this. This is from an SNL sketch, "Happy Fun Ball" - CLASSIC!

        An excerpt:

        Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Happy Fun Ball.
        Caution: Happy Fun Ball may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
        Happy Fun Ball Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
        Do not use Happy Fun Ball on concrete.

        Here is the whole thing: http://www.happyfunball.com/hfb.html [happyfunball.com]

        -Ponga

    • by MbM (7065)
      Warming it up in the microwave is still safe, right?
  • OK, I'll say it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PrvtBurrito (557287) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:54AM (#16246261)
    PS3 fiasco
    Rootkit
    Laptop batteries
    BluRay
    RIAA/MPAA support


    Sony is looking more and more like a company that is poorly led and one that maybe can't be trusted. These are all (so far) huge public relation disasters. I think they need to rethink their strategy, in the meantime, I will be politely avoiding their products.

    • Universal Media Disk
      PSP "White is Coming" ad campaign
      Lack of PSP title support
    • by treeves (963993)
      Why is P flamebait when he says the same thing that others did, just not making a joke out of it? Jokes only work because there's truth in them.
    • by gamigad (932350)
      Modded Flamebait? What, have facts and honest opinion become trolling????
    • I would have added proprietary memory media. I wont buy Sony cameras etc since I would have to use their memory media instead of what I already own.
    • by Trifthen (40989)
      It's not just that. The name "Sony" once meant quality. Now it seems they can't do anything right. I'd stay away from Sony products simply because it seems they break or explode frequently. ;)
  • Confused? Worried? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mac123 (25118) on Friday September 29, 2006 @10:57AM (#16246331)
    And yet no recall on the batteries in my Sony Vaio laptop?
    • And yet no recall on the batteries in my Sony Vaio laptop?


      Yes, I was wondering about this as well. My wife has a Sony Vaio which I'm quite sure has a Sony battery in it. I've been looking for a link to check Sony models against but haven't been able to find one. If anyone knows where to find information for Sony computers please post the link.

      Thanks
      • by creepynut (933825)
        She doesn't need to worry. Sony is quite smart enough to know not to use their own batteries.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Ron Bennett (14590)
      Wondering the same thing too...

      From what I've read, it appears that Sony puts more battery charging safeguards into to their branded notebooks than Dell, Apple, etc do?

      Ron
      • by Fred_A (10934)
        What about all the batteries they make for cameras and other portable electronics ? Are those going to blow up any time soon ?
  • by ConfusedSelfHating (1000521) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:00AM (#16246411)
    Not only do they have to do a full recall, but it gets dragged out through months of bad press. People will be calling their relatives asking if their laptops have Sony batteries in them. Do you think the laptop companies are going to blame anyone but Sony?

    Sony should have seen this coming and bit the bullet at that point. This has turned into a PR disaster. Most people don't understand the concept of a root kit, but they do understand "can't bring laptop on a plane, because it might bring the plane down" (Virgin Atlantic did ban several brands of laptops because of this issue) or "laptop bursts into flame, everybody blames Sony". It's a very simple concept and everybody can understand it. When technology doesn't work properly or worse becomes a hazard, people become angry and scared. And the last thing a company wants is to have its name associated with fear and pain.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by pizpot (622748)
      Wait till a house catches fire and someone dies. Then Sony really will be a 4-letter word.
  • Check E-bay in a few months, as well as all the discount suspiciously-low-price stores through Yahoo. There are going to be a helluva lot of cheap laptop batteries for sale in "as is" condition....
  • low incidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:05AM (#16246501) Journal
    From the tips-to-prevent-fires link:
    There are tens of millions of portable computers in use. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is aware of at least 47 incidents involving smoke or fire associated with notebook computers, from January 2001 through August 2006.

    So, taking a low-ball figure of 20 million for total notebooks in use from 1/01 thorugh 8/06, that's still just over 2 incidents per million notebooks... I wonder how many incidents there would be per million notebook-use-hours.

    To contrast, the rail system in the US was very pround when, in 1993, they were able to reduce reportable safety incidents below 3.0 per million train miles.

    What I'm trying to say is that people are getting very worked up over a not-very-big deal (not that the goal shouldn't be 0 incidents per million hours) -- and considering the minor harm that such fires are likely to cause, is it worth the economic and financial impact of these recalls?
  • by sloth jr (88200) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:07AM (#16246547)
    * apologies to Happy Fun Ball/SNL

    Sony Batteries

    -only $14.95-

            * Warning: Pregnant women, the elderly and children under 10 should avoid prolonged exposure to Sony Batteries.
            * Caution: Sony Batteries may suddenly accelerate to dangerous speeds.
            * Sony Batteries Contains a liquid core, which, if exposed due to rupture, should not be touched, inhaled, or looked at.
            * Do not use Sony Batteries on concrete.

    Discontinue use of Sony Batteries if any of the following occurs:

            * Itching
            * Vertigo
            * Dizziness
            * Tingling in extremities
            * Loss of balance or coordination
            * Slurred speech
            * Temporary blindness
            * Profuse sweating
            * Heart palpitations

    If Sony Batteries begin to smoke, get away immediately. Seek shelter and cover head.

    Sony Batteries may stick to certain types of skin.

    When not in use, Sony Batteries should be returned to its special container and kept under refrigeration...

    Failure to do so relieves the makers of Sony Batteries, Sony Corporation, of any and all liability.

    Ingredients of Sony Batteries include an unknown glowing substance which fell to Earth, presumably from outer space.

    Sony Batteries have been shipped to our troops in Afghanistan and is also being dropped by our warplanes on Iraq.

    Do not taunt Sony Batteries.

    Sony Batteries come with a lifetime guarantee.

    Sony Batteries

    ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES!
  • by CrazyTalk (662055) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:19AM (#16246755)
    My Dell was one of the laptops with the recalled battery, so I promptly sent for a replacement. Mind you, I never had any problems with the battery at all - the computer ran cool as a cucumber (And never exploded). Of course, why would I turn down the chance for a new batter, if for no other reason than it should be better at holding a charge then my 18 month old one. Got my new battery in the mail last week, and guess what? The darn thing runs so hot, even when the laptop is running of of A/C power, that I'm practially burning my left palm everytime I use it. Is it too late to get my old battery back?
    • "Is it too late to get my old battery back?" I'm sorta confused. My wife's Inspiron was affected by the recall and I didn't have to send the old battery back.
      • by CrazyTalk (662055)
        While technically you don't *have* to send it back, they send you a pre-paid return packing slip in the hopes that you do (Which I foolishly did)
    • by Rogerborg (306625)
      Did you actually get a new battery? Did you check the date of manufacture? I have a suspicion that somewhere in the bowels of Sony that there's a little man who shuffles 99% of the at-risk batteries from an In pile to an Out pile. On the bright side, someone who had a hot battery is no doubt enjoying a cool lap thanks to yours now.
  • by raddan (519638) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:20AM (#16246777)
    Jesus! The article mentions a guy whose laptop started smoking as he boarded a plane.
    The safety of Lenovo's batteries was called into question in mid-September after an IBM ThinkPad caught fire at the Los Angeles International Airport. A passenger who had charged his laptop at the airport boarded his plane and then realized his computer bag was smoking. He ran off the plane onto the jetway, and the overheated notebook computer began throwing off sparks, Lenovo said.
    Good thing there wasn't a trigger happy air marshall there! If only he had some water to put out the... oh, wait. If I were this guy I'd be thankful to be alive.
    • by walt-sjc (145127)
      As always, should you or any of your I. M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This notebook will self destruct in 10 seconds...

      Damn Mr. Phelps! At least read your messages in private!
  • Ehm .. are we in the process of creating a nuclear fusion reactor (ITER)? Let's try to create a good battery first!!
    • by treeves (963993)
      No, there were plans to locate the ITER in Japan, but they ended up deciding to put in France.
      Of course, there's a big difference between mass producing millions of a thing as cheaply as possible using laborers working for a dollar a day, and building a huge one-of-a-kind project with a huge budget and twenty year time frame using hundreds of physicists and engineers.
  • Why do the explode? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dayyan (1007043) on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:42AM (#16247167)
    Just in case some of you are wondering why these batteries explode. A scientific summary would be: They become overcharged.

    And if you are wondering how overcharging can create an explosion. Another scientific summary would be: If you put more energy into an environment which cannot handle it. It becomes unstable.

    If you are wondering why an environment becomes unstable when too much energy is involved: It comes down to atomic science.

    Wondering why it comes down to atomic science? You might want to think about going back to school, we need more scientific minds like you.
    • by pizpot (622748)
      Just in case some of you are wondering why these batteries explode. A scientific summary would be: They become overcharged.

      I thought it was when metal particles from the machine fall into the battery while it is being created. The layers or lithium are thin and rolled up and the metal can create a short due to vibration or thermal contraction. Then the battery shorts itself and starts a metal fire.

      PS: Hey slashdot, you can filter out carriage returns and newline characters and replace them with HTML
      • PS: Hey slashdot, you can filter out carriage returns and newline characters and replace them with HTML br with the following perl commands.

        $string =~ s/\r\n/####/isg;
        $string =~s/\n/####/isg; #Where #### is the HTML br tag. Am I missing something?


        Hey pizpot, use the "Plain Old Text" input type and it will already do this for you. It also allows HTML tags in the "Plain Old Text" posting format.

        (Posted with Plain Old Text)
        • by pizpot (622748)
          Hey pizpot, use the "Plain Old Text" input type and it will already do this for you. It also allows HTML tags in the "Plain Old Text" posting format.

          Cool, I missed that by not looking in the drop box. All this time I though something was loopy. Makes me think the default should be changed, or is everyone writing their posts in Composer and pasting them into slashdot. Thanks eh.
      • by toomz (175524)
        That rules out my RoHS conspiracy theory.

        On the other hand I can't wait until millions of highly toxic RoHS compliant rechargeable batteries get recalled because their recharging circuits start developing tin whiskers, short circuit and explode. Look what you whiny environmentalists did! Muahahaha.
  • Sony Xplod (Score:3, Funny)

    by lynchmenow (544715) <(bryan.lynch) (at) (gmail.com)> on Friday September 29, 2006 @11:43AM (#16247209)
    Why don't they just market their batteries under the Sony Xplod brand?
    • by popeye44 (929152)
      If I had mod points.. I'd have modded this up.. Damn thats funny. Must be less people have heard of Xplod than I thought.
  • .... And when I get my new battery, will it be made by Sony or someone else? If it's made by Sony, you'll excuse me if I am a bit gunshy about using it.
  • So what happens to all these batteries? Would hope there will be some massive recycling going on. Anyone with more information?
  • Where can we find more details of the entire recall - TFA didn't mention it and the SOny Web site seems to just be full of how wonderful they are.
  • Thanks to the story here yesterday on the IBM/Lenovo battery recall, I went to the website [ibm.com] and checked my battery on my T43. Whaddya know, it's one that's part of the recall. I called and they transferred me to a call center in Atlanta and I was on hold for about 10 minutes. I should have my replacement within 4 weeks. Of course they said not to use it anymore - i.e. just use AC power (that's alternating current, not anonymous coward power!) and I know they have to say that but I'm going to keep using the
  • "In related news, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has released some tips on how to lower the risk of your laptop batteries exploding, no matter who the manufacturer." Tip #1: DON'T BUY BATTERIES FROM SONY. Tip #2: see tip #1.
  • by MrBoombasticfantasti (593721) on Friday September 29, 2006 @12:29PM (#16247987)
    To check the model number and manufacturer of your battery:

    cat /proc/acpi/battery/BAT0

  • It is interesting that everyone is blaming Sony and no one talks about Toshiba here. Back when Apple recalled batteries, quite a few people in this forum bitched about Apple. Now that Apple, Dell, Lenovo, and Toshiba have recalled batteries, people do realize who's fault it is.

    If I had been Sony, I would have asked the manufacturers to recall batteries all at the same time. Instead, they are getting bad press four times in a row as all the reputable manufacturers recall their batteries. What a PR disaster!

    I
  • Just to clarify ... "Since the laptop battery recalls initiated by Dell, Apple, IBM/Lenovo, Toshiba & Fujitsu" BS .. The only one to initiate the recall was Dell .. And they took a lot of heat for it. Please be accurate in your reporting !
  • ... for the battery in a PSP to take some 9-year-old's finger off.

    Lawsuit of the century.

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