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Dell Warms Up To Battery Recall

By: David Utter

Over four million notebook batteries will be recalled by Dell in the wake of a handful of reports of these batteries heating to the point where the machine catches fire.

Dell Warms Up To Battery RecallIn Osaka, Japanese businessmen watched as a Dell (DELL) laptop burst into flames while sitting on a table. One can imagine the same thought running through the minds of everyone in the room: "I'll never put one in my lap again."

The PC industry as a whole seems to be shifting away from the term 'laptop' to 'notebook' to describe portable computers. If anyone still had plans to promote them as laptops, the image of flames shooting out of that hapless salariman's Dell probably ended them.

Dell has initiated a recall of 4.1 million batteries as a precaution. On the battery recall website, Dell took care to ensure people knew the batteries were manufactured by Sony (SNE), which competes against Dell with its Vaio line of desktop and laptop notebook computers.

Those batteries may have shipped with certain models of Dell notebooks, or made available separately as secondary batteries. "Under rare conditions, it is possible for these batteries to overheat, which could pose a risk of fire," Dell said on the recall site.

The question of incident frequency received more attention in July. Over a period of a couple of years, Dell has had other reports of notebooks experiencing overheating problems. Those reports predate a 2005 recall of 22,000 notebook machines, where severe overheating problems were a concern.

That and the current recall make some other Dell news out of Taiwan more interesting. Representatives from Dell and processor maker AMD (AMD) told CNet Taiwan that AMD-equipped notebooks could hit the market as early as October.

Dell resisted AMD for a long time, preferring to remain an Intel-only shop. Lackluster financials may have motivated Dell to embrace AMD in Dell's server lineup, and probably offer the same reason for placing AMD chipsets in notebook machines.

Dell finished up 17 cents to 21.24 in trading yesterday. After-hours trading erased that gain, though, as Dell dropped 30 cents according to ECN.

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