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Toshiba to Exchange 340,000 Laptop Batteries 97

narramissic writes "Toshiba Corp. has offered to exchange 340,000 laptop computer batteries made by Sony. According to a Toshiba spokesman, the batteries may fail to charge correctly, causing the power to cut off suddenly. The company will be posting a software tool to its Web site, allowing customers to identify whether their computer is affected." From the article: "Toshiba's problems stem from a defect in the interface circuitry between the battery cells and the computer. That defect is caused by corrosion, said a spokesman for Sony, the manufacturer of the batteries. An ingredient used in the insulating paper of batteries manufactured between March and May can corrode components in the batteries' charging circuits, causing them to fail, said Sony spokesman Takashia Uehara. The supplier changed the composition of the insulating paper without notice, he said."
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Toshiba to Exchange 340,000 Laptop Batteries

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  • Which Laptops? (Score:3, Informative)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:36AM (#16137288) Homepage
    Well, I'll tell you ...
    Toshiba's free battery exchange program covers 11 notebook models sold in Japan, five sold in the U.S. and 12 sold in Europe, including the Tecra A7, Satellite A100, Satellite M50 and Satellite pro M70
  • Sony = Bad News (Score:1, Flamebait)

    by crazyjeremy ( 857410 ) *
    Has Sony had any good news recently?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      They've got some good news in the pipeline: since all of these battery recalls are costing them so much, they're planning on raising the price of the PS3. As everyone knows, we are each going to buy one (Sony execs told us so!), which will finally help Sony balance themselves out a bit. It's looking like the year is going to end very well for Sony!
    • Yes. Their PS3 processor is so over-powerful, it doesn't even need to waste time rendering your games! Instead, it's going to work on Curing Cancer! [slashdot.org]
  • Arrrrrr (Score:3, Insightful)

    by B3ryllium ( 571199 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:40AM (#16137304) Homepage
    Have I mentioned lately how *GLAD* I am that I haven't purchased a laptop yet?

    This sort of shakedown can only serve to improve the product before I finally pull the trigger and make that purchase :)
    • So what kinds of phones do you buy? Rotary? Or have you upgraded to the ones with the pretty buttons yet?
      • Rotary?
        I still use tincans and string.
      • BlueTooth, actually. ;-)

        But seriously, it's not due to lack of technology that I haven't got a laptop, it's due to lack of necessity. It would be a luxury, one I can't afford just yet. What I meant by the GP was that this made it easier for me to withstand the urge to look into purchasing one. My desktop with dual monitors will suffice for now ...
        • it's due to lack of necessity. It would be a luxury, one I can't afford just yet.

          You can't put a price on mobility... I run Linux on my laptop, and can go work in the shitter at home if I want to ( or look up pr0n ). Now that's progress!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sholden ( 12227 )
      Because getting a new battery after a few months of using the old one is such a pain in the ass!

      You have no idea how annoyed I was when I checked and found my dell's battery isn't of the exploding variety. Now if I want more than 30 minutes of battery use time I'll have to buy a new battery myself...

  • by babbling ( 952366 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:44AM (#16137322)
    if(1) {
    printf("Your battery is not affected.\n");
    else {
    printf("Your battery is affected.\n");
  • Lucky for Toshiba (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locution Commando ( 1001166 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:44AM (#16137328)
    This is a fairly lucky break for Toshiba - for those who haven't already moved on down the reply-line, let me explain why:

    First of all, Toshiba isn't exactly a, how shall we say, 'household name' in the U.S./Western market.
    Secondly, you can bet that Toshiba doesn't have to pay for Sony's mistakes - that role typically falls to Sony (or Sony's end-users). Thirdly, there is little the U.S. business news, and to some degree European news world likes to cover more than a big huffy-puffy recall, or RECALL RECALL RECALL!

    So for a small name like Toshiba, this equates to free publicity, and goodwill; "Aww- look how well they took care of thier consumers."

    from the article:
    "Toshiba's free battery exchange program covers 11 notebook models sold in Japan, five sold in the U.S. and 12 sold in Europe, including the Tecra A7, Satellite A100, Satellite M50 and Satellite pro M70, Ohmori said. European customers can consult a list of affected computers on Toshiba's Web site "

    So essentially, they are getting free publicity in the U.S. and European markets. (Not that this is a good or bad thing, just and interesting aspect of the situation) Ask someone in a week to name 5 laptop makers, and I'd wager Toshiba moves up the list in recognition. Longterm, (nearly) any press is good press.

    • It seems to me a lot of people recognize the Toshiba name for laptops, but I'm around tech groups a lot, and that may be why.

      I do like their notebooks and support though, I hope this name recognition helps them.
    • Point 1 [businessweek.com], point 2 [com.com].

      First link is 1.5 years old, second is 5 years old. Yeah, they're old, but they both show that Toshiba has an extremely large market share in the US. 5 years ago they had the third largest at 21%. 1.5 years ago, out of the they had 4 (including #1 & #2) of the top 10 selling laptops.

      This in no way is to gain recognition because people don't know who toshiba is. They either got called on it privately, they're doing it in good faith, or they want to screw over Sony. Since they're t
      • or they want to screw over Sony
        I'm not sure we're even disagreeing here, I was mostly intersted in pointing out that all in all, this will probably be a positive long term for Toshiba in the market, and especially as you point out, against Sony. I just happen to think Toshiba is experienceing luck of circumstance, it appears you think there is more maneuver involved.

        I must say I was impressed and surprised by the links you helpfully put up, especially the first one. It does appear from the newer article t
        • by k_187 ( 61692 )
          or she could go down to walmart or staples or office depot and get a toshiba cause its cheap and what they have there. When buying a computer, other than the examples you list, people rarely buy a "brand" its what they can afford where they buy it. When my brother bought his Toshiba he didnt' walk into staples and say "I want a toshiba" he said I want a laptop and it was the best deal they had at the time.
          • First point, I am glad to see that someone seems to support my point that, for the average consumer, when they want a laptop, they don't first think "I want a Toshiba"

            With regard to what you are actually saying, I should clarify. Since I know you read my statements in their context, I'm sure you noted that my point was that I had a hunch that having the highest selling laptops, and those laptops being relatively inexpensive, it implied some sales coming from outside of the 'West'. And wouldn't you know it,
        • I just happen to think Toshiba is experienceing luck of circumstance, it appears you think there is more maneuver involved.

          Perhaps, I was just speculating. Business is business, and most businesses do what they can to get ahead.

          I see your point, but I disagree, sort of. I just don't think Toshiba is that "unknown" as a brand; I believe they have more brand recognition than you believe. Their market share as posted above (which were just two quickly googled links) seems to show that. They just don't
    • by morie ( 227571 )
      Longterm, (nearly) any press is good press.

      Great news, mr Bin Laden, Brand recognition for Al Qaeda is up again. It was in the top 3 terrorist organisations named in last months survey.

      We are working on Brand affection next. we are confident it will go up (it can hardly go down...)
      • Completely off topic, but the sad fact is that this is true for Al Qaeda's interests. Being named frequently does help them - they went from obscurity to the wrold leaders of their area - the only problem being that their area is crackpottery and senseless violence....

        You will also note I qualified my statement beforehand anyways, hence "nearly" - so I'm not exactly sure if you were making social commentary, or disagreeing with me, or...?
        • by morie ( 227571 )
          I do certainly agree with you.

          However, name recognition is not all. People hve to develop a liking to you and tyour product for any real #) ??? #+1) Profit! to happen.

          On the other hand, I am joking around a bit on brand satisfaction and brand attractiveness, but the joke only works in the west. Within a certain target population, I am sure that brand attractiveness has gone up as well and people will in fact rather join a well known terrorist organisation than an obscure one.
    • In NZ Toshiba laptops are big, I own and M70 and think it's awesome. I didn't realize they weren't prevalent in the states. Exactly what kind of laptops do you guys get?
    • by smoker2 ( 750216 )

      First of all, Toshiba isn't exactly a, how shall we say, 'household name' in the U.S./Western market.

      First of all, Toshiba isn't exactly a, how shall we say, 'household name' in my household.

      There, fixed that for ya !

      Pc World [pcworld.co.uk]
      Currys [currys.co.uk]
      Dixons (ok same as currys) [dixons.co.uk]
      Debenhams [debenhams.com]
      tesco [tesco.com]
      Comet [comet.co.uk]

      I could go on and on. In fact I would be surprised if anybody in the UK hadn't heard of Toshiba.

      And your comment is currently at +4 Interesting.


      • A very good point, I will definately concede the point, I erred, as is often the case with us stupid Americans, of applying myself to the masses (I hope at least someone gets the joke). I retract my claims for the European market, which I was admittedly shaky about adding anyways.

        Now I await counterpoint for the U.S. market - I'm happy to be proven wrong on the point- you'll note above I've responded to someone else already who pointed out some interesing info - perhaps it helps to clarify my stance on'hou
    • by mnmn ( 145599 )
      Maybe not a lucky break for its customers.

      We have 7 odd laptops in that list, and I'll be doing the legwork getting serial numbers and sending/receiving batteries. Sure they pay for shipment but its unwanted hassle.

      Not that we use its batteries at all... if the composition of the paper was changed, who knows it wont explode.

      I'm typing this on a rather dangerous Tecra A7 timebomb.

      This message will self destruct in...
      • Yeah, sure, if you always measure the glass' emptiness regardless of the fraction of liquid it contains. I bet you'd still complain about the inconvenience even if a Toshiba service rep came by and gave you a glass of iced tea to drink while she personally replaced the batteries for you.
        • by mnmn ( 145599 )
          As a matter of fact I would.

          I would in any case that deviates from what was written in the datasheet.

          I wouldnt complain if it works within its spec within its lifetime. Like the rest of the laptop.
  • So... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:47AM (#16137339)
    When is Sony going to, you know, recall the batteries from their own laptops? Or did I miss that?
  • by corroncho ( 1003609 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:51AM (#16137359)
    Be grateful, things could be worse. At least these batteries don't install a rootkit and then spontaneously combust. Sony, Sony, Sony, its a good thing your so loaded. A smaller company would been dust by now.
    Free iPods? Its legit [wired.com]. 5 of my friends got theirs. Get yours here! [freepay.com]
    • Sony, Sony, Sony, its a good thing your so loaded. A smaller company would been dust by now.

      What do you mean, "good?" Sony should become dust!

      (By the way: "it's" and "you're," not "its" and "your.")

    • Probably because, in decending order of importance,

      1. A battery doesn't need drivers or transfer data in any form or shape. So basically noone figured out how to make a battery that installs a rootkit. That may well change, though, once trusted computing gets accepted. I'm sure someone will figure out a reason why it's vital to authenticate the battery.

      2. A battery can't get copied or ripped to MP3, and you can't upload it on P2P networks. So it's hard to justify -- either to the users or to your own accoun
  • Quality?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JumpingBull ( 551722 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:54AM (#16137375)

    Isn't this not supposed to happen? I thought that the ISO 900x process was built to flag these issues before they became the nightmare that has since developed?

    • by trongey ( 21550 )
      Isn't this not supposed to happen? I thought that the ISO 900x process was built to flag these issues before they became the nightmare that has since developed?

      No, ISO 900x only insures that everything you do is documented. It doesn't even try to address the validity of the processes that are documented. All of your processes can be total crap as long as everyone does what it says in the document.
  • Race to the bottom (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alcimedes ( 398213 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @09:55AM (#16137380)
    Anyone else notice that in a race to lower production costs to their absolute minimum, companies are spending more and more money fixing problems down the line?

    I would love to see the bid contracts that went out. Odds are that someone who's a little more reputable was within a few cents per battery of this outfit, but lost out because they weren't the lowest cost bid.

    Now you have a piece of paper worth a fraction of a cent costing Sony at least $50 to $100 per battery.

    Nice cost savings.
    • by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      Anyone else notice that in a race to lower production costs to their absolute minimum, companies are spending more and more money fixing problems down the line?

      I would love to see the bid contracts that went out.

      I can produce a set of laptop batteries using an old newspaper and 3 paper clips (can be bent, or rusty, preferably not colored). Cost: A Big Mac + Coke

      Regards, Sony

      PS: The Big Mac from the menu with the toys if possible (I can make mp3 player outs of them). Thanks!
    • by lee1026 ( 876806 )
      Well, if it is indeed a problem with one of the components, then that supplier is going to be shouldering the costs.
    • In general, I agree with the statement about racing to the bottom in terms of production cost. On the other hand, we are talking about just one culprit here: Sony. Putting a Sony battery in does not seem to be a cost saving measure... Failed quality control in Sony is another matter.
  • Uhhh, I'm a little confused here. This article [toshibadirect.com] from Toshiba's website [toshibadirect.com] seems to conflict with that. No?
    • The second article merely states that Toshiba laptops are not affected by the same issue that Dell and Apple have. In fact, the issue Toshiba is having with their Sony batteries is different; it's caused by corrosion from the paper supplied by a third party, not a manufacturing defect that causes overheating and possibly exploding. Either way, it still sucks for everyone involved.
    • Dig a little deeper. If you follow your own link [toshibadirect.com] to the Toshiba web site, and click on "Technical Suport" (their spelling, not mine) the first article [toshiba.com] outlines their battery exchange programme.
  • I just replaced the battery in my Acer laptop. The old one seemed to stop holding any charge at all, or just not charging. I know the charging capacity diminishes as the battery ages, but mine went from holding about an hour's-worth of power to nothing in a very short space of time. It's difficult to say exactly when it failed because during that time I almost exclusively used the laptop while on AC power, but I would have expected a more gradual decline.

    The battery was a few years old, and maybe it was jus
    • Lithium Ion batteries don't have the graceful decline in capacity that other battery chemistries have. Their lifespan drops off quickly when they start to lose charge capacity.

      I looked in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery) and found an interesting fact - lithium ion cells lose their lifespan yearly just from being charged up! That article suggests that 20% is lost every year regardless of wether the battery is used at all!
    • by sam991 ( 995040 )
      I've been wondering the same thing myself. My Acer now only holds about 1/3 of the original charge, takes twice as long to charge and seems to overheat while charging. It was 1 year old last month. To the best of my knowledge it is not a Sony battery but if the problem is caused by the insulation paper, it might not be limited to just the one supplier.
  • The company Tesla Motors, [teslamotors.com] developed a sports car that can out accelerate Porche, BMW etc. It can reach 60 MPH in 3.5 seconds (compared to 4 sec for BMWs and Porches).

    Now it appears it can outburn a Dell too. It is built using some 7000 laptop batteries.!!!

  • one more exchange complete. one burns blue, one burns orange. collect all 4 pretty colors, considering the recent story of a Gateway battery torching a computer.

    between rootkits and burning batteries, it's Sony, the one and only....
  • The supplier changed the composition of the insulating paper without notice, he said.

    will these PR guys ever grow up? The supplier is to blame ? How did this pass quality then?
  • Sony better get their act together. This is at least the third major recall on Sony laptop batteries in this year alone, and all for different reasons. If I were a competeing battery manufacturer, I would be very happy right now. If I were Apple, Toshiba or Dell, I would be looking for other suppliers.
  • Are we going to see a point where running a laptop of any brand off batteries in-flight is banned by various airlines?
  • by Solr_Flare ( 844465 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @11:07AM (#16137843)
    It's an issue with Lithium-Ion batteries in general. The Sony faults just make the problems even worse for laptops. All Lithium-Ion batteries have safety concerns when exposed to rapid discharging or overcharging. Specifically, the batteries will become quite hot when this occurs beyond a certain rate. My father, who is not normally a tech savy person, has even known about this flaw for years now because of his hobby: Radio Controlled Airplanes.

    People who use electric motors on their RC Planes frequently use Lithium Ion batteries, however, because of the nature of the hobby, the batteries tend to discharge at an extremely high rate, or people in a rush can not pay attention and overcharge them. Apparantly there have been many reports over the years in this hobby of planes exploding in mid air or people's cars/homes catching fire because of a rapid buildup in heat by the batteries. The issue got so prevelant that they actually sell pots for people to place their batteries in so that if they do go up in smoke, they won't catch anything else on fire in the process.

    Now, of course, this is a hobby where the batteries are being put under unusual and frequent stress, and I'm sure some of the cases were also due to poor quality control. However, it is just one example of many that shows that the problem is not Sony alone, it is a fundamental problem with Lithium-Ion battery technology in the first place. A significant enough problem that the smallest iregularity can result in potentially major issues. All of this is just another example of why, given the increasing portability demands in the technology sector, we need new battery technologies.
    • The stronger issue at hand is how the batteries are made. They are filled with flamable liquids and because of the manufacturing processes little shards of metal sometimes ar caught between the layers. The demand for longer lasting batteries translate to companies wanting the manufacturers to make longer lasting batteries. This is done by making the protective layers/seperators thinner so they can fit more cells in a compact battery.
  • I noticed that no one had commented on the Virgin Airlines Apple/Dell dilemma.

    To recap:
    Virgin Airlines was not allowing ANY Apple or Dell computers, regardless of the battery manufacturer, to use batteries on board its planes. Batteries would have to be checked in and sit in the cargo hold of the plane. The only way to power your computer is then from the power brick, which few planes provide.

    Now, will Virgin Airlines ban all Toshiba laptop batteries, too?

  • by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Tuesday September 19, 2006 @12:15PM (#16138393) Homepage
    I was actually visiting Toshiba's website this morning looking up some information on a laptop I was considering to buy. At the top of the Laptop Page [toshibadirect.com] was a link saying Toshiba PCs Not Affected by Sony Battery Issue [thosibadirect.com].

    From that page:
    Sony is one of the suppliers of battery packs used in some Toshiba notebook PCs. We have investigated with Sony whether those PCs that employ the subject batteries are affected with the same problem that caused the recent recalls issued by Dell and Apple, and have found that the system design and the protection system of Toshiba notebook PCs differ from those of Dell and Apple. We have found no evidence that the problem reported by Dell and Apple in their recalls applies to our notebook PCs. Sony has confirmed to us that there is no such problem as cited in the recalls of Dell and Apple with the battery packs supplied to Toshiba.

    Way to send mixed messages folks. It looks bad for Toshiba that they have faulty batteries that may or may not be under a recall. It looks even worse for Sony as they are responsible for both recalls.
    • by Speare ( 84249 )

      There are two separate issues with Sony batteries currently.

      One, early-build Apple MacBook Pro 15" models had a battery issue very much like Toshiba's: the battery could not correctly charge or diagnose an impending shutdown, so the laptop would just shut off instead of properly go to sleep. The groups of batteries affected are being replaced by Apple at no charge if the serial number indicates the right lot numbers.

      Two, many Apple PowerBooks (I don't *think* any later MacBook and MacBook Pro models)

  • There were news recently in the press that certain laptops are banned on some airlines. Most of those laptops were from Dell. Since the battery issue has also affected the likes of Sony, Toshiba and Apple, they should probably also be banned on airlines to apply this rule uniformly. I was flying last week on Delta and they did not allow my Dell laptop to be switched on. But I noticed that they allowed a passenger seated two rows ahead of me use his Apple notebook.
  • (I think it was on NPR)...that Virgin Atlantic was banning travellers with Macs or Dells, regardless of the model, from using their laptop batteries while in flight and that they must safely stow batteries separately from the laptops. I wonder if the ban will now extend to Toshiba users? And I have to wonder if other airlines will be taking similar actions. My HP may weigh a ton, but at lease I don't think the battery was made by Sony.

    BTW - Toshiba may not be very popular in the US, but I have friends a
  • I work for sony VAIO tech support, and the only thing we tell a customer if they think they're battery is affected is that sony uses different saftey features and blah blah and that there are no plans for a recall at this time, there are no reported incidents involving our computers. We do have information about why the exploding batteries were exploding if someone asked us that. But I cant wait for work tomorrow after this bit of good news. Always good to have one more issue to deal with.

    BTW, I dont own
  • by Kuvter ( 882697 )
    With so many Sony battery problems occurring; it seems like Sony is so busy working with the Blue-ray and cell chip for the PS3 that they forgot how to make safely working batteries.
  • Here is the link for the Toshiba Battery Recall in Canada /-TSB001354.htm []

  • More fried balls.
  • I have one of the affected batteries according to the visual inspection instructions provided by Toshiba here [toshiba-europe.com]

    I rang the Toshiba helpdesk to report this and was told that because I run Linux, this would be a problem. According to the helpdesk assistant, I would need to return the entire laptop to a repair center, and have it running the installed Operating System (Windows XP Home) with the test utility installed. The repair center will then carry out diagnostics to determine if the battery should be rep

You are always doing something marginal when the boss drops by your desk.