Just a few days before the Christmas holidays, Dell has issued a reminder to its customers to check their notebooks and return any lithium-ion battery packs that were listed under the voluntary Aug. 14 recall.
On Dec. 21, a spokesperson confirmed that the Round Rock, Texas, PC maker had issued the reminder to its customers as part of the companys effort to recall more than four million notebooks that were shipped with faulty Sony battery packs.
Dell was the first PC maker to issue a recall, and company officials told customers that Sony would replace the faulty battery packs at no charge. Following the disclosure by Dell, Apple, Lenovo and several other PC manufactures also announced recalls of certain notebooks that used Sony battery packs.
The Dell spokesperson said the latest notice was sent out to users earlier this week. Some Web sites and blogs indicated that the notices were sent out on Dec. 20.
It was not clear how many Dell users exchanged the faulty battery packs for new ones. Bob Kaufman, the Dell spokesperson, said that the notice was simply a reminder for users to check their notebook batteries.
“As a direct manufacturer, Dell is able to identify customers who may have been affected by the recall of August 14 but have not ordered a replacement,” Kaufman wrote in an e-mail to eWeek.
“Recently, a reminder was sent out to some of those customers. Safety of our customers is a top priority, and we encourage customers who have not sent back potentially affected batteries to do so,” Kaufman added.
The voluntary recalls started after two notebooks caught fire in Japan. After engineers examined the notebooks that caught fire, they discovered that the battery cells themselves, which are usually arranged in groups of six inside a battery pack, were at the heart of the problem. Metal particles introduced during manufacturing could cause a short circuit inside one of the cells, which would then lead to a fire.
According to Dell, those notebooks that could have been shipped with the faulty battery packs, included: Latitude corporate notebooks with model numbers D410, D500, D505, D510, D520, D600, D610, D620, D800 and D810; Dell Inspiron models 6000, 8500, 8600, 9100, 9200, 9300, 500m, 510m, 600m, 6400, E1505, 700m, 710m, 9400 and E1705; and Dell Precision mobile workstation models M20, M60, M70 and M90 mobile; and Dell XPS, XPS Gen2, XPS M170 and XPS M1710 models.
How much the battery recall will affect the notebook market is hard to measure. A report by IDC indicated that 85 percent of PC buyers would not change their spending patterns as a result of the recall. However, the 15 percent that said they would change could shift market share.
Earlier this week, on Dec. 18, Matsushita, best known for its Panasonic products, announced that it would produce more flames resistant and safer lithium-ion batteries.