Net Turns Up a Second Burned Dell Notebook

Dell says it is investigating and is working to gain possession of the machine.

Dell says its investigating a report of a second laptop fire.

The Round Rock, Texas, PC maker says its working to gain possession of a machine which melted itself at a Vernon Hills, Ill., company July 25.

A company employee posted pictures and a description of the incident, in which he said the machines battery burned, on Toms Hardware Forumz.

The Illinois incident follows that of a machine that went up in smoke at a business conference in Japan in late May. Dell obtained the laptop involved in the Japan incident and has been testing it. It has not yet unveiled any results of its tests.

"We are aware of the [Illinois] incident and are in contact with the customer," a Dell spokesperson said on July 31. "We take all of these incidents seriously."

The company intends to obtain the machine and then conduct a thorough failure analysis, including a teardown of the machine, in an effort to determine the cause of its destruction, the spokesperson said.

Although the root cause of the two notebooks problems are unclear—the Dell spokesperson declined to speculate or to release information on the models or ages of the two laptops—pictures of the charred Illinois laptop posted on Toms Hardware Forumz suggested that the machines battery and or charging system may have malfunctioned.

Indeed, notebook batteries and charging systems have historically been sensitive areas of the machines, which can fail at times.

Batteries, for one, can overheat when being charged and can present fire hazards. Numerous battery packs have been recalled after PC makers found they were improperly manufactured.

Tens of millions of laptops are sold every year and run for years without incident. However, several brand-name computer makers have issued recalls in some cases hundreds of thousands of battery packs in recent years, many citing fire potential risks.

The most recent to be reported by the Dell and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission was the December 2005 recall of about 35,000 Dell notebook battery packs sold to corporations and consumers worldwide between October 2004 and October 2005.

The batteries, which were bundled with Dell notebooks and also sold as add-ons via the companys Web site and catalogs, can overheat and thus pose a fire risk, Dell said in a statement released along with the December 2005 recall.

Apple Computer has also launched a campaign to replace battery packs that shipped with its 15-inch MacBook Pro until May 2006.

However, it said the packs do not perform up to its specifications and do not present a safety risk.


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.