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HP Recalls 70,000 Laptop Batteries 75

Posted by timothy
from the or-just-stick-with-renter's-insurance dept.
angry tapir writes "Hewlett-Packard has recalled Lithium-Ion batteries used in some of its laptops, as they pose a fire hazard. The recall covers about 70,000 batteries used in the company's HP and Compaq-branded laptops. The affected laptops can be found here."
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HP Recalls 70,000 Laptop Batteries

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  • Mass computer genocide....
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Daryen (1138567)

      Every one of these incidents seeks to assure us that there is a flaw in the manufacturing process.

      I am beginning to suspect that there is a flaw in the design of today's lithium batteries.

      • Re:No batteries = (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:47PM (#28013515)

        That being they are being manufactured in a country with historically poor quailty control and an incentive to cut corners whenever possible.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by erroneus (253617)

          That is the exact truth and I can only imagine that business people are well aware of this and as in the case of other safety recall situations, they factor these things into the business plan. Cheaper to make, the risk of recall costs, rise in margin, risk to business name/reputation. I'm sure it all works out for them.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Wow! I didn't know they were making lithium ion batteries in the United States!

        • by inviolet (797804)

          That being they are being manufactured in a country with historically poor quailty control and an incentive to cut corners whenever possible.

          An added complication is the urgent business directive to change the battery geometry once a year. You know, move the pins over a quarter-inch or so, or change the size of the power jack by a millimeter, or move the cells around. Just enough change to obsolete all currently-owned batteries, wall warts, and car adapters.

        • Re:No batteries = (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Sandbags (964742) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:12PM (#28014813) Journal

          Why not simply state it as it is:

          "3rd world battery manufacturer failes to deliver on contractual quality guidelines and costs HP a shitload of dough recalling 70,000 batteries, while themselves shrinking our of existance with full pockets."

          or

          "HP continues trend of failing to learn the lesson that using the lowest bidder does not cost less afterall; recalls 70,000 substandard 3rd party batteries made in some country you will never go to buy guys with names you can't spell who in total make less than your anual salary."

          • by oldhack (1037484)

            I rather blame HP than Chinese manufacturers. Whether HP sources from China or Mars is entirely HP's issue - it's sold by HP, not by the Chinese.

            So. Sony - kaboom. Dell - kaboom. HP - kaboom.

            Interestingly, I have been using ThinkPads for years, and now it's a Chinese brand and so far no kaboom.

            • by v1 (525388)

              But does HP make its own batteries? Sony makes batteries for a lot of people, I doubt HP in-houses' their battery cells.

              • But they still sell them, and they still sell them in a much more direct way than Best Buy selling replacement batteries or Wal-Mart selling them. Essentially they become part of the HP laptop and thus should be held responsible.
        • It almost saddens me that my battery stopped taking a charge exactly a year after the warranty ends. I almost wish I had an exploding battery just so I might get a free one.
        • Hmmm, I might reconsider to never fly routes that do a 787 in future since 90% of the parts are made in said country with cut corners tm procedures.

      • Re:No batteries = (Score:4, Informative)

        by Locke2005 (849178) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @12:53PM (#28013613)
        I am beginning to suspect that there is a flaw in the design of today's lithium batteries.

        Modern lithium batteries are designed to achieve the the highest energy density possible. I suspect they do this by cutting as close as possible to the limits. The higher the energy density, the greater the chance of a short circuit and the greater the chance of a meltdown if something shorts out. Sure, they could design safer batteries, but those would weigh more and last less time on a charge -- not exactly the attributes the market is demanding. There may be exceptions, but in general if you want to store more energy in a smaller space with less weight, it is inevitably going to be more volatile.

        I wonder how long it will be before the TSA makes these batteries illegal on planes.
        • by rrohbeck (944847)

          Anything with a high energy density needs to be made with high reliability. Just ask anybody in the auto industry (let alone rocketry.)
          The problem is that quality/reliability is only viewed as excess cost for throwaway items like computers.

        • I price shop for cheap laptop batteries. I guess I am partially responsible for encouraging low-quality manufacturing. Really, I think I know that I might get a substandard product. It would be hypocritical for me to point the finger at Chinese manufacturers who are more or less giving me what I want.

          I'll remind my wife to try to keep her laptop's airflow ports unobstructed...

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Sandbags (964742)

          Actually, the issue is NOT the individual cells, it's a problem called cascade failure and is usually do to the failure of a terminal seperator inside the battery causeing a short. The individual cells are actually quite stable, but like a 9volt touching a coin in your pocket, the can get very hot very quickly. At about 600 degrees, they combust internally and expel steam, which can chain react heating nearby cells to combustible temps as well.

          The space inside the battery pack that hits 600 degrees can be

        • by v1 (525388)

          in general if you want to store more energy in a smaller space with less weight, it is inevitably going to be more volatile.

          I don't know if "volatile" is the word I'd use. Assuming nothing goes wrong with the manufacturing process, one battery would be very much like the next regardless of density. The problem is that when you want to jack up the density, it means the sizes get smaller, and therefore your tolerances become more important This means your manufacturing process has to improve its tolerance

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by omnichad (1198475)
        Lithium batteries are dangerous. Period. The fact that they are being made in China should scare you. If anything goes wrong, lithium batteries want to overheat or explode.
    • Wow, that was close. All but a couple digits in s/n match my notebook's battery.

  • That should fix it once and for all.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That should fix it once and for all.

      Do you mean Li-Ion batteries in general?

      They offer the best power to weight ratio and if you include length of time before charges, they're the best thing to come to the market.

      • by Faylone (880739)
        except for that part about exploding...
      • by Khyber (864651)

        With the way portable devices are becoming ultra low-powered, who needs high energy density? With the improvements of PV tech, we can build laptops right now that don't require batteries at all. If we took some of yesteryear's tech (say a P3 and PC-133 SDRAM, and maybe a GeForce 4) and gave it a modern update (45nm or smaller manufacturing process, pipeline resizing, etc) you would have a very decent, low-powered system that might be able to run entirely off of solar. Eliminate all moving parts (use SSD dri

        • But who wants a low powered Pentium III and slow RAM? Sure, its energy efficient but I'd much rather be able to run something other than an ultra-minimal Linux distro, e-mail, and a laggy browser. Plus, whats the point of entirely off of solar? There are some occasions that running off of solar is impossible (at night, inside, etc).

          Sure, we could do it, but it would be expensive, underpowered, and have no real reason.
          • by Khyber (864651)

            What YOU consider underpowered and what I consider underpowered are two totally different things.

            The way you speak, you seem like the gamer type. Sorry, but the majority of the world isn't a gamer/superHDvideo/200 instances of Photocrap running type. I know MANY businesses that still use Pentium 2 hardware and see no reason to move BECAUSE IT PERFORMS TO THEIR EXPECTATIONS. I still have a Celeron machine that I use purely for some old school gaming, it's a Win95OSR2 box. It still runs like a damned champ, a

  • both myself and my son have/had laptops on that list.
    neither computer had a battery failure, but both have had the powersupply fail.
    last year my son's went out and so we swapped batteries so he could run his long enough to get his data off. then a few weeks ago mine did the exact same thing.

    i just got a new HP. i'll have to check it's battery

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I had a HP power supply die. What died was the cable on the way out of the power supply. Spend another five cents on some decent wire? Nah. Spend twenty bucks (ten bucks parts, ten bucks shipping) to keep the user going on warranty. Dum de dum dum dum!

      Even dumber: they sent me two power supplies for LCD monitors before sending me the right thing, and I didn't have to send anything back. Hooray for needless bullshit in the mail!

    • by chrish (4714)

      Wait, wait, wait.

      You and your son have HP computers that both failed in the same way, and they're both on the recall list.

      And you just bought a new one from the same company.

      Why would you do such a thing?!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I think that this HP explosive laptop stuff is a bunch of FUD, and given it's more then stellar track rec

  • by Het Irv (1424087) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @01:03PM (#28013801)
    This is the 4th recall of batteries by HP in 5 years... You would think, okay maybe the first is a fluke, everyone screws up sometimes. The second time, you get a bit worried, but four times? I think someone in HP needs to work out how much each of these recalls is costing them per year, maybe those figures will convince them that manufacturing them to a higher standard wouldn't be a bad idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by inviolet (797804)

      This is the 4th recall of batteries by HP in 5 years... You would think, okay maybe the first is a fluke, everyone screws up sometimes. The second time, you get a bit worried, but four times? I think someone in HP needs to work out how much each of these recalls is costing them per year, maybe those figures will convince them that manufacturing them to a higher standard wouldn't be a bad idea.

      Why in the world would you assume that they haven't already performed exactly that calculation?

      On a less cynical no

      • by Het Irv (1424087)
        I'll acknowledge that your first point is valid. I have heard about companies doing things like that, but in todays world, its getting easier for companies to be called out on things like that. Also the less I think about it the better the world seems. Utopian Fantasies FTW!
    • Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
      Woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
      Narrator: You wouldn't b
      • by TheLink (130905)
        And some years later they wonder why fewer and fewer people are buying their cars.

        Manufacturers in it for the long term would do A * B * C + "cost of losing good will" vs cost of recall.

        Of course it's hard to do that if the shareholders and CEOs only look as far ahead as the next financial quarter.
    • Its quite likely that most of the 70 000 batteries will not ever be submitted for recall.

      I have two anecdotes, the first one was with this exact laptop line (dv20xx). A co worker brought her laptop in for servicing with a video issue. Looked like the video card was going bad or the connection between the screen and the video card was bad. I forget the exact details, but i remember there being sporadic video loss/ corruption. I started researching the problem and one of the first google hits described the pr

  • Without my Li-Ion battery, I'll have to start using the stove to cook meals.
  • Overheating... (Score:2, Informative)

    by sou11ess (942999)

    My HP dv9000 is horrible when it comes to overheating. I specifically bought a laptop cooler to keep it cool and operational. Google "hp dv9000 overheating" for a number of people with similar issues.

    I wonder how much of the overheating is from the battery simply be improperly designed, or if the laptop's own design heats up the battery more than normal.

    • My dv9000 overheats so badly it shuts down when doing anything graphically intensive (playing video games and/or using Adobe Lightroom are the biggest causes for me).

      I've tried laptop coolers, but their airflow is a joke.

      The only method of keeping it from crashing that worked reliably was propping it up at a weird angle with the cooling vents right at the cold air discharge of a hotel room air conditioner. (I was on a week-long photography trip across the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec, and the laptop was so cra

      • by Svartalf (2997)

        Depends on the model of laptop, I think- the Turions seem to run hotter and have more issues (based on my unscientific observations of about a half dozen of their DV-6000/9000 laptops, including my Core Duo model that's still chugging...).

        But the word's out on things- the resellers are telling customers to shy away from HP's unless the thing precisely meets your requirements from start to finish.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by socrplayr813 (1372733)

          Like a lot of slashdotters, I fix computers for friends and family on a fairly regularly basis. I'll agree that HPs generally do tend to run hotter than a comparable Dell, Toshiba, etc, regardless of the processor. I have no idea why. I'd guess it's because they just don't put enough thought into cooling their laptops.

          I will say that my HP tx2500 (Turion) certainly runs hotter than I'd prefer when doing intensive things, but it's bearable. However, I think some of the HP laptops out there give you the b

      • The upside to the disgrace that HP has become is that they are on the leading edge of green energy. The power generated from Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard spinning in their graves is now sufficient to power their entire West Coast operation.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Khyber (864651)

      As a former tech that specialized in the repair of the DV9000 series of HP laptop, I can tell you firsthand it's the bullshit thermal pads they use on their internal heatpipe. Remove your logic board from the laptop, and replace all thermal pads (should be three) with a real thermal compound, like arctic silver. You will never have an overheating problem again. Those pads are just absolute garbage.

  • Take the number of batteries in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.

    I guess X was large.

  • by LMacG (118321) on Tuesday May 19, 2009 @02:22PM (#28014969) Journal

    The linked recall notice says "After removing the recalled battery from their notebook computer, consumers may use the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives."

    If I wanted a desktop computer, perhaps I'd have bought one?

    • by xenolion (1371363)
      Aw there you go again with the thinking again. Damn looks like the wife is going to take my laptop again. :(
    • Unfortunately, a lot of standard consumers today want a laptop because it's cute and portable. It doesn't matter that they'll never take it anywhere; that's not the point. The point is that they COULD take it somewhere. It's a waste, but it's really hard to fight that momentum, especially with the marketing reinforcing it.

  • What the heck is wrong with HP, or specifically, with the morons that designed the dv6000 series, of which i am a 'proud' (meh!) owner?
    This laptop had its internatl power circuitry fry (HP acknowledges this, and offers a free mail-in repair, even after warranty), the Wifi-mini-PCI card simply disappeared completely (under Windows and linux), and chooses to re-appear aprox. once a month (HP acknowledges this, and IIRC also offers a free off-warranty repair for this. Both of these symptoms happened to a frie
    • I hear ya... I now have 2 laptops with recalled batteries, a desktop with a bad Nvidia chipset that they waited until was out of warranty to recall, and another desktop that I bought factory "refurbished" that arrived with a broken DVD burner that had pieces audibly loose inside, a shattered SATA power connector hanging off the power supply, and (a year later) developed a problem of spitting out garbled text at POST instead of booting up. At least when I pried open that DVD burner I found a beat up pr0n dis
  • What about laptops sold outside the US? I have a cheap F754LA (LA for Latin American) and the battery is listed among the ones to be recalled.
    I think I will get nothing from the local HP support center (in Argentina). My brother has a (cheap, of course) V3614 and the red color vanishes while adjusting the screen angle. The HP guys kept it for full 3 weeks and returned it unfixed. "Not an issue" they said.
  • Of course my laptop battery is affected by the recall, who here thinks I should send it in, or just keep it.

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