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Dell Notebooks Catch On Fire!

CmdrTaco posted more than 13 years ago | from the now-that-kicks dept.

Hardware 188

Mr_Person writes "Dell Computer will recall about 284,000 notebook batteries due to a flaw in batteries incorporated in Inspiron 5000 and 5000(e) notebooks. The flaw causes the batteries to produce excessive amounts of heat, in fact, at least one notebook has even gotten to the point of catching on fire!" I thought the worst part of Dell Laptops was the fact that they broke all the time, and that they billed me for months after I shipped them the laptop back claiming they never got it. Maybe you could use Dell Laptops as an alternate heat source, what with rising gas prices *rimshot*

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Anectodal and Flaimbait Topic (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#248050)

What do we do with a completely anectodal and flamebait topic? I'll go anectodal: I love my Dell Laptop. It kicks ass. It cost half of what the IBM was, and it is close to three times the machine.

Also this week in the Slashdot Enquirer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#248051)

Aliens land in Wyoming, Ship Uses Linux

Larry Ellison is the Anti-Christ, Bible Scholars Say

CmdrTaco Uses Windows at Home- say sources

Re:lol (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#248052)

Oh yeah, I am so sure Michael is SLIGHTLY embarrassed. He has just managed to give Steve Jobs more ammo in the escalating war of words between Apple & Dell.

As I recall, Mr. Dell made a comment about Apple's flaming powerbooks a few years back. Maybe instead of jabbing them he should have asked Apple how not to create a flaming notebook.

I can hardly wait for all of the payback.

Re:Please... (5)

Russ Steffen (263) | more than 13 years ago | (#248055)

If Dell eus this recall like they did the previous battery recall, it will work like this:

  1. You register for a replacement battery
  2. They ship a new battey out to you.
  3. You put your old battery in the box the new one came in, and slap on the included prepaid shipping lable.
  4. Send it back to Dell

It worked out pretty well then.

Re:FIRE! (2)

Have Blue (616) | more than 13 years ago | (#248058)

Do you call your workstation a desk?

Re:Know your facts... (1)

pod (1103) | more than 13 years ago | (#248059)

You are incorrect a to the cause of innovation. People don't innovate because something doens't work right, they innovate because they can make it work even better. They innovate because that's what people do. Even perfectly working technologies get replaced by better (or just different) things. The batteries in Dell laptops, even if they worked perfectly, will be replaced by better, smaller, longer lasting and more environment friendly batteries, and it has nothing to do with how good (or bad) they are right now.

Self imolation using laptops (1)

Craig Maloney (1104) | more than 13 years ago | (#248060)

I'm surprised more people haven't experienced self imolation with laptops. These suckers get HOT after a while. Anybody seen the "Laptop Cookin'" flyer on [] ?

Maybe with the later versions of laptops, they'll bundle a package of marshmallows rather than Microsoft Works. You might get more done in the long run anyway with the marshmallows. :)

Inspiron Owner Tips (5)

Kostya (1146) | more than 13 years ago | (#248061)

I'm sure you already figured this out, but just in case and for others out there ...

(I own a 5000)

Tip #1 Never place your laptop on a bed, on cushy upholstery, soft carpet, comforter, etc. for long periods of time or operation

If you want to fry your laptop, your couch, or your own leg (i.e. under a comforter), that's the fastest way. From what I can gather, the laptop is designed to radiate heat downward. When you place it on an insulator like a carpet, a bed, or a comforter, it gets hot REALLY fast.

Yes, it is a laptop. But I wouldn't recommend curling up with it on a cold night with your favorite quilt--unless your heat is out.

Tip #2 Fan == "Danger Will Robinson!"

Shortly after owning my laptop, I noticed that the little fan in the back would come on and turn off. One day, the area under the Enter key was super hot--I could feel it through my keyboard. I ejected my modem and ethernet cards and I couldn't hold them they were so hot! I grew worried (I really love this laptop) and so I called support thinking my fan was busted. The info I go was shocking.

The standard operating temperature for the processor is 150F. The fan kicks on only if the processor is starting to operate out of the spec'd range of "standard". If your processor starts getting up around 180F, the fan kicks on to cool it off.

Those numbers are based on memory, but they feel right (i.e. by how hot my cards get ).

Now, I don't care how many assurance that Dell tech gave me--180F is not a Good Thing[tm]. When I hear my fan kick on, I usually give my laptop a quick look-over to make sure I can't do anything to help it cool down. Proping the back end up on a book *might* help.

Needless to say, if your fan is on for a long time, you might want to check on your laptop. OTOH, maybe your just cracking blocks ;-)

(disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for anything stupid or reasonable you do with your own laptop; take or ignore this advice at your own risk)

All that being said, I really dig my 5000. I loaded it up with a crap load of memory and a big HDD--it is a great development tool on the Commuter rail. I just always make sure to score a table in the middle of the double-decker cars. My right leg is getting scorched (kidding).

Re:Oh, shut up already... (1)

jnik (1733) | more than 13 years ago | (#248062)

I've owned and administered dozens of Dells. I've had few if any problems, and always, always Dell has provided excellent support --and more than half the time they did't need to: absolutely kicks ass

Yeah, they're good, but not perfect. They just recalled a RAID controller because it could randomly corrupt data. You know how much fun it is to call up a client and let them know the system will be down while we fix something that may have been randomly scrambling their data over the past few months?

Re:Where were you in 1995... (2)

FallLine (12211) | more than 13 years ago | (#248068)

Ah, yes, Dell, so very proud of wresting the education sales crown from Apple, I just can't wait until the first schoolkid gets burned by one of their laptops and the hordes of lawyers descend.
Why not? Dell is not a monopoly, they won it fair and square. The fact of the matter is that Dell is able to deliver a better value to the schools than Apple can with their propreitary systems. Just because Apple does some things very well does not mean they deserve endangered species status. While I do not agree with the "close down" sentiments entirely, you should realize that Dell was competing against Apple at the time and that there is some truth to that statement. The only reason that Apple has managed to stay alive is because they've been able to carve out a niche for themselves. If they had to compete neck and neck against Dell's wintel business model, they would have been utterly crushed long ago with their small economies of scale, proprietary hardware, higher inventories, lesser utilized OS, etc.

Also gotta love that they are continuing their stringent QC from a year or two ago when they shipped CD-ROM modules for their Latitudes that did not fit any Dell laptop that was in production at the time. That was a real fun time for me where I worked. What I don't understand is, when Dell is just a me-too cloner bolting parts together and not innovating a thing, how can they not even be able to do that right and still stay in business?
Dell is hardly just a "me too" cloner. The fact of the matter is that they dominate the OEM computer market. It is not accident. They have excellent manufacturing systems, very low inventory (a huge issue in the industry), testing technology, high reliability, etc. In short, they're an economic powerhouse that is worthy of considerable respect. Sure, they have had a few slipups, but so have other manufacturers. They, unlike others, have quickly and fairly resolved the problems, so what's the beef?

Furthermore, not all of their systems require zero innovation, their laptops and servers are all significantly customized and require a fair amout of engineering efforts.

Not how it works. (2)

Pope Slackman (13727) | more than 13 years ago | (#248069)

I put in a request for a new battery today (I have an I5000, and despite what Taco may say, it's been a great machine. Even survived a couple drops with no damage...), and it appears to work like this:

They send me a new one.

I send back my potentially pyrotechnic one.

When they get my old one, they send me *another* one.

So, I get two batteries out of this recall.
I'm happy.


My Lattitude Cpx 500 caught fire also... (1)

keepper (24317) | more than 13 years ago | (#248073)

The machine smoked, and i don't know what would have happenned if i hadn't disconnected it....

Dell's response? They sent a tech to us and replaced everything but the shell, not even a new laptop :( ... bastards..

Re:One Notebook on fire does not deserve this head (2)

gsfprez (27403) | more than 13 years ago | (#248074)

I don't recall you beating your chest when this happened to a TEST MODEL that never left the lab of the subcontractor that made the batteries for Apple.

The hypocracy is so glaring, i'm putting on my sunglasses.

Dell should take as much shit as Apple had to take... for once in their lives.

I like my Dell (2)

Wonko42 (29194) | more than 13 years ago | (#248075)

Several months ago I made two large purchases. First, I bought a brand new 950MHz Athlon and 384 megs of RAM for my desktop machine, and then a Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop.

When the laptop arrived, I immediately stopped using my desktop machine. I also stopped using my machine at work. I now do absolutely everything on this laptop because it is simply amazing and wonderful and good in every possible way. It does get fairly warm after extended use, but it's not what I'd call hot.

So far, I'm extremely pleased with this machine. It's never failed me once.


Amen (2)

cje (33931) | more than 13 years ago | (#248079)

I've got an old Dell laptop (a 133MHz Latitude XPi) that has seen heavy use over its years, and it still runs as good today as it did when it came rolling off the assembly line. I basically use it for Internet browsing from the porch, the backyard, etc. (it's running Linux and equipped with a Lucent 802.11b PC card.) It works flawlessly; I have never had a problem with this machine .. nor have I had problems with any other Dell laptop I've used. To suggest that there is some sustained defect in these machines is sheer lunacy.

As a result, I now order Dell exclusively when I need new machines. I recently placed on order for a Dimension 4100 on a late Saturday afternoon, and it arrived on my doorstep the following Friday morning. Four business days for processing, building, testing, and shipping a new desktop. Pretty damned impressive, if you ask me.

Sure, there are plenty of companies in this business that deserve to be harassed and poked fun at, but Dell is not one of them.

Dell Latitude (2)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 13 years ago | (#248082)

I just agreed to keep a Dell Latitude here at work. I really wanted one of the Apple Titanium G4s but it's a long story. That laptop gets pretty dang toasty. I wonder if this will turn out to be like the Firestone tires. Independant reviewers find that more than just the few models the manufacturer lists are vulnerable.

Now not to diminish Dell's fault or anything like that in this matter, but Apple had a similar issue a long while back. I believe the faulty batteries were in the PowerBook 5300 line that was introduced over 5.5 years ago. The problem was found quickly and the faulty type of batteries were replaced with another type. They didn't cause a fire but they could get hot enough under the right conditions to melt the battery casing or the case of the laptop. I've got a Sparc laptop at home (we call it the Sparcable) that weighs like 30lbs. Basically it's an IPC in a slightly smaller case with a battery and a screen attached. You cannot stand to have that thing on your laptop. Your legs will be nice and tanned after five minutes with that puppy.


Oh, shut up already... (5)

costas (38724) | more than 13 years ago | (#248084)

... I've owned and administered dozens of Dells. I've had few if any problems, and always, always Dell has provided excellent support --and more than half the time they did't need to: absolutely kicks ass.

But interestingly enough, I am typing this on a broken Dell laptop --ironic isn't it? This machine is completely hosed, it will BSOD if you move it an inch (external keyboards rule).

Anyway, it's my first truly broken Dell machine --ever. A corporate machine, purchased in Minneapolis for our company office in Atlanta. I am sitting right now in an apartment in Thessaloniki, Greece, 7,000 miles away from this machine's "home". I hang up the phone with US Dell Support an hour ago (collect). Dell has promised me that they will have a technician *on site* with a new motherboard *tomorrow morning*.

I will be sure to post Dell's performance here tomorrow. In the mean time, CmdrT., you may want to go tell VA that they have a long way to go to compete with these guys...

Yahoo as a news source. (3)

MustardMan (52102) | more than 13 years ago | (#248086)

It always makes me laugh when I read one of these yahoo stories with glaring grammatical and/or spelling errors. Slashdot is one thing; it's a weblog that's SUPPOSED to be a buncha nerds arguing over crap and being opinionated. Yahoo (and Cnet, which is where the article actually came from), however, are attempting to be credible news sources.
Sentences like "Dell agreed to replace the memory was replaced free of charge." do not help the crediblity of Yahoo and Cnet.

I am not a grammar nazi. It's quite likely that this post contains grammatical errors. I, however, am not claiming to be a news source. Your mileage may vary. Removing this screw may void your warranty. MSRP based on standard package. Power windows, air, and seats extra. #include

Heat (1)

tilleyrw (56427) | more than 13 years ago | (#248087)

So that's what's been happening with that over-unity excess energy thing -- batteries!

Re:Break? (1)

phlako66 (56726) | more than 13 years ago | (#248088)

That's funny because most of the major threads on any Dell-Linux board are how nobody can seem to get the APM to work properly. I own an Inspiron 7500 - which I'm very happy with, and which has never hinted at catching on fire - but I can't for the life of me get the damn AMP stuff to work properly. Perhaps you could elaborate on what you did to get it to work. Oh, and I do know what a taniwha is: only a kiwi would right?

Same here Inspiron 3800 (1)

birder (61402) | more than 13 years ago | (#248089)

We bought two Inspiron 3800s last June. My battery wouldn't hold a charge for more than 20 mins. When I called the support centre the tech was amazed it hadn't exploded yet. It was releasing its charge at a VERY high rate.

They replaced the battery and all has been well since (had to have to keyboard replaced after 9 months).

Two weeks later I saw the notice on their website regarding a battery recall. When I checked the other notebook's battery, it was completely dead. The user never noticed as he kept it in the docking station 24x7.

My beef with Dell (1)

birder (61402) | more than 13 years ago | (#248090)

I don't blame Dell regarding the battery recall (I was even a victim).

What I don't like is their policy of using refurbished parts for replacements. My hard drive crashed a few years back on a Dell PC under full warranty. They quickly shipped me a 'new' drive. The refurbished sticker on it gave it away however. When I called to complain they said it was now their policy to use returned parts. I wasn't too happy having a 'fixed like new' drive as my storage medium. It took a strongly worded letter to our regional Dell office to get a factory new drive.

As a side note, my co-workers secretly opened the box and replaced the drive with an even more decrepid one, wrapped in plastic wrap.

I was incredulus! They got me good...

Dell's legendary warranty service (1)

irq (68200) | more than 13 years ago | (#248092)

I'm on my second Inspiron right now, a 5000e, actually. First one was a 7500. I haven't had problems with any of them, except for the time I drove about 20 miles when I realized that I left my 5000e on top of my car. Thank god it was found the next day, and the only thing that broke on it was the "LCD flex cable", a ribbon cable that goes from the computer to the LCD. The LCD itself wasn't even cracked. Dell replaced the whole laptop for me, free of charge. I didn't, of course, tell them it fell off my car, but they replaced it anyway. I think for a laptop to survive a hit about 6' in the air, at 35MPH sort of says something... they really *don't* break all the time, only when you abuse them :)

Re:highly unfair representation (1)

irq (68200) | more than 13 years ago | (#248093)

I used to own a Vaio too, which I replaced with an Inspiron, because the DVD drive kept dying. Sony made me *mail* them my laptop EVERY TIME, they replaced it THREE TIMES, refused to replace the entire laptop, so I sold it to some guy in Russia and bought an Inspiron. Been happy since.

highly unfair representation (1)

lucyfersam (68224) | more than 13 years ago | (#248094)

CmdrTaco's representation of Dell here is highly unfair and irrisponisible journalism. It is the first time I have heard anyone do anything but praise Dell for its customer service. They are rated #1 by Consumer reports in customer service and warrenty repair; whereas Sony, who /. seems to be able to do nothing but praise for their Viao, has an abysmal warrenty repair record, and doesn't even rate in the top 10 in either customer service or warrenty repair. I am currently working on a Dell, which has been one of the best machines I've ever owned of any type, which I had to buy as a replacement for my Sony Viao thats screen spontaneously fractured and Sony refused warrenty coverage on despite it clearly being covered according to their warrenty card. Let's have some fair journalism here, maybe do a little reserch before unfair article like that.

Re:Break? (1)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#248095)

That's funny because most of the major threads on any Dell-Linux board are how nobody can seem to get the APM to work properly. I own an Inspiron 7500 - which I'm very happy with, and which has never hinted at catching on fire - but I can't for the life of me get the damn AMP stuff to work properly. Perhaps you could elaborate on what you did to get it to work.

You know I don't think I did anything special - I may have turned off ACPI in the Bios - and I'm running a 2.2.'something early' kernel. There is an obvious Bios bug in save-to-disk which means that it doesn't restore the video context correctly - you can get around this by flipping to a virual terminal (ctrl-alt-f3 etc) and back to force X to do it - also it WILL lock up if you dock/undock it without suspending first.

I write the KDE laptop support - my APM usage is really pretty simple - KDE polls /proc/apm for current battery state and exec's /usr/bin/apm to cause suspend/standby transitions. I almost never power off/reboot my laptop - it lives in the dock and I carry it around suspended (lasts a couple of days at least) so I get virtually instant-on - I only ever use save-to-disk when I get on/off an airplane.

Oh, and I do know what a taniwha is: only a kiwi would right?

Yup - that would be right ....

Break? (3)

taniwha (70410) | more than 13 years ago | (#248096)

I love my 7000 laptop - keeps me toasty warm on those long nights :-) Seriosly though I've had no problems - it's one of the best Linux laptops I've used - has a great APM implementation (unlike the brand new IBM I have at work whicxh despite it's lovely display freezes whenever I try and suspend it)

They cool part is... (1)

Nerftoe (74385) | more than 13 years ago | (#248099)

The cool part is that you get a free battery out of the deal. They send you your replacement battery, and once you send back your recalled battery back to Dell, they send you an additional battery. Since I ordered an additional battery when I ordered my Inspiron 5000, I'll have 4 fresh new batteries. Whoop!

Here's the info from the recall page:

  1. Your free replacement battery order has been successfully submitted. There is no need to call Dell.
  2. Please print this page for your reference.
  3. Dell will send your free replacement battery and instructions for returning your recalled battery as soon as possible.
  4. Upon the return of your recalled battery to Dell in accordance with instructions, Dell will automatically ship an additional free battery to you as supply becomes available.

Dell Support is FANTASTIC (1)

Controlio (78666) | more than 13 years ago | (#248102)

I wholeheartedly agree here. Dell has offered such outstanding equipment and tech support to me with my laptop, that I would never even CONSIDER buying from another company. Their service is second-to-none.

I had a problem with the hard drive in my laptop about a year and a half after buying it (completely my fault), and had another hard drive at my door in under a week.

Even better, three days before my warranty expired I broke the latch on the screen right off of the unit... I called, not really expecting much more than a "well don't be a moron next time"... but sure enough they took care of it. I didn't have to do a THING. Two days later, a UPS guy shows up at my house with a box with packing foam in it. He says, "Just take out the HD, RAM, and cards, and I'll take the computer." I did so, and as he was walking back to his vehicle with my laptop I asked, "Don't I need to address a label or something?" He responded, "It's all taken care of. Have a nice day." Six business days later, I had a new case, which replaced another crack that I didn't even care about. They paid for EVERYTHING, and took care of the problem very quickly, with no effort on my part.

I can't believe you're defaming Dell over a faulty battery they didn't even make that only had one incident of malfunction. They're recalling EVERY like battery at their cost, just in case. This doesn't even make me BLINK as far as recommending Dell laptops to others, and it shouldn't make anyone else think twice either.

Now, if only they'd make the mother-of-all laptops with one of the new AMD mobile chips in it... then I'd be a happy boy. That chip sounds bad-ass. :)

Re:I thought Apple had this award (1)

kootch (81702) | more than 13 years ago | (#248105)

how did that iMac commecial go...

"burn baby burn!"

I thought Apple had this award (2)

kootch (81702) | more than 13 years ago | (#248106)

I didn't think that after the Apple adventure any other company would make laptops (or notebooks) that could catch on fire.

Well, it was a first for Apple [] ... sadly of course.

Bump to #2 (2)

diablovision (83618) | more than 13 years ago | (#248109)

Bump this to number 2 on list of things to have on a desert island:

1. Jamie Presley
2. Dell Laptop - new with built in survivor kit!
3. Fresh water


Re:OT: No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 13 years ago | (#248111)

I started getting mod points after about 10 karma, and every few weeks. Once I got past 25 I started having them almost all the time (only 3 or 4 days in the last month I haven't have them). Appearently, however, many /. users are getting them a lot, at all karma levels.

The Good Reverend
I'm different, just like everybody else. []

OT: No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (2)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 13 years ago | (#248112)

Speaking of such things, has anyone else noticed (or been expiriencing) that moderation points are being handed out like they're going out of style? I've be a moderator 4 times in the last three weeks, and so have many others. This happening to anyone else out there?

The Good Reverend
I'm different, just like everybody else. []

That's hot! (3)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 13 years ago | (#248113)

The US and British governments should get ahold of these for their spy agencies...they could set their laptops to self-destruct every time they're lost.
The Good Reverend
I'm different, just like everybody else. []

Mine laptop gets hot, too... (3)

smoondog (85133) | more than 13 years ago | (#248114)

I have a inspiron 7500 and this beast can get *very* hot. I have a habit sometimes of leaving it on after work and commuting while using it as an MP3 Player in my car stereo. When I get it home, sometimes it is so hot I cant touch any of the metal ports on the back and it is hard to type! Needless to say, I don't do that much anymore...


Re:OT: No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (1)

donutello (88309) | more than 13 years ago | (#248116)

Yes, I was awarded moderator points 3 times in the past week. I hadn't gotten any moderator points for several weeks before that.

I also know this happened to a lot of people too because I suddenly saw a vast profusion of +5 posts on threads: Everyone suddenly had a lot more moderator points than they knew what to do with. Just the previous week an article would be posted and the highest rated post was a +4 while an article on the same subject the week after had 15 posts rated +5.

Honestly though, is the Inspiron a good laptop? (1)

frankie (91710) | more than 13 years ago | (#248117)

Since we're on this topic ... my wife needs to buy a laptop for a biostatistics class. We're currently an all-Mac household (I bring a Wallstreet [] to work, with a PowerBase at home that also runs NetBSD) but we wouldn't be averse to a PC if it made sense.

What laptops in the $1500ish range are better and cheaper the new iBook [] ? I went to (educational sales) and priced out a comparable Inspiron -- it was $150 more than the Mac! Not interested...

Not the first time (1)

Cire (96846) | more than 13 years ago | (#248119)

This isn't the first time that something like this has happened. Apple's powerbook 5300 caught on fire [] in the exact same manner.

At one point you could trade in the 5300 for about half off on a brand new pismo (firewire g3), but I don't think they have the same deal on the snazzy Titaniums [] .

On another note, I had a Compaq Armada die on one of my users the otherday. Airborn express picked it up on a wednesday night and I had it back from them on Friday morning, in great shape! A one day turn around! that was aweomse.


Why not blame Dell ? (1)

dingbat_hp (98241) | more than 13 years ago | (#248120)

I didn't buy a Panasonic, I bought a Dell. My contract is with Dell, and if anyone has redress against Panasonic, then it's Dell, not me.

It's Dell's responsibility to sell me a usable product. This may also involve them in a duty of care to validate their suppliers, so as to maintain this product's quality. As overheating Li-ion batteries have been a well-known problem since they first appeared, it's clearly incumbent upon Dell to ensure that their laptops are safe against it, their battery supplier can supply batteries that don't overheat, and their PSU (which is probably outsourced too) isn't likely to cause overheating (mis-charge any Li-ion battery and it will overheat).

Broken Dells (2)

Life Blood (100124) | more than 13 years ago | (#248121)

Yeah, I'm on my 3rd keyboard and LCD screen on my 1 year old Inspirion 3700. The current LCD (#3) is broken and only works intermittently, but I just hooked up an old monitor I had lying around and am using that when the LCD is illegible. The keyboard seems to have stayed fixed this time though so hooray for that.

So, in short, don't but Dell laptops. It the like the computer version of Russian Roulette.

Looks like I'll be buying the Dell Inspiron 5000.. (4)

acm (107375) | more than 13 years ago | (#248124)

I was thinking about picking out a laptop as my new firewall, I guess the Dell Inspiron 5000 is the one for me!

haha! ok that didn't make any sence...

Not the first battery recall for Dell! (3)

Dman33 (110217) | more than 13 years ago | (#248125)

Dell is quite familiar with this sort of thing. Last time, it was the Latitude notebooks that were going up in flames. The details from the horse's mouth can found here [] .

Re:lame joke #44 (1)

The_Messenger (110966) | more than 13 years ago | (#248127)

Normally I'd complain about this unfair moderation of "flamebait", but it just makes the joke even better. Flamebait, tee hee hee... ;-p


Re:OT: No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (1)

oojah (113006) | more than 13 years ago | (#248129)

I don't moderate, but I have noticed that there have been a lot more "large" articles recently. I normally read at +2 but have had to increase that a few time so that I'm not reading x00 comments.


corvair (1)

jpostel (114922) | more than 13 years ago | (#248130)

didn't someone write a book about dell laptops called "unsafe at any speed"?

Wow (1)

leinerj (115797) | more than 13 years ago | (#248132)

Imagine a beofwulf cluster of thoese - you can heat an entire state (read: california)

Yet another example of Apple leadership (5)

ReelOddeeo (115880) | more than 13 years ago | (#248133)

This is yet another example of how the Apple Macintosh has led the industry and everyone else follows.

Apple had flaming Mac PowerBooks years ago. PC vendors are just now getting around to copying.

Re:Oh, shut up already... (2)

psin psycle (118560) | more than 13 years ago | (#248134)

Dell has promised me that they will have a technician *on site* with a new motherboard *tomorrow morning*.

I've worked tech support for a fairly large company. For three years we'd have dell in a couple times a month to fix laptops. Dell is very happy to come, to wherever you are, tommorow morning and replace a piece of hardware. If that piece of hardware doesn't fix the problem, they'll come out with Another piece of hardware (let's try the CPU now...), and if the problem persists, they'll be at your door the next day replacing something else (memory this time?), and if you still have a problem (my laptop freezes up) they'll come out and try again (maybe the second motherboard was faulty).

In the end, if they do fix the problem, you're set. If it isn't hardware problem though, they waste so much time of your time trying to replace the hardware. The repair guys usually won't even look at the software to fix the problem.

Of course, is an awsome support site. And dell shows up at your door ASAP with parts. And if you break the tab off your lid, they'll come out and replace it. And if you phone them and tell them the display is too dim, they'll come replace that too (do that before your warrenty expires.. they tend to fade with time) Dirty keyboard? Call dell for a new one.. keyboard sticks. Trackball/Pad sucks? They'll come fix that too.

But, if you have a computer that "locks up randomly" you're pretty much scrwed. m$ won't support you because it is OEM and Dell will just keep replacing harware.

Maybe running linux on dell is better than windows, unfortunatly the company i worked at wasn't ready for that...

I hate this inspiron (1)

arabelladragon (126231) | more than 13 years ago | (#248136)

We bought six identical Dell Inspiron 5000e's for everyone in our program at school. Simply put, they suck rocks. If anyone's thinking of buying one, don't. They're too heavy and slow for the price. A lot of the problems we've had might be fixed by changing the batteries, but I think inherently they're shoddy and cheaply made. There are many negative reviews at CNet and the only thing we haven't had happen in at least one of our six computers is for pixels to go out.

Re:HCF (2)

_underSCORE (128392) | more than 13 years ago | (#248137)

I'd say they implemented the instruction perfectly.


Sounds like... (1)

Some12 (129970) | more than 13 years ago | (#248138)

Sounds like a headline their marketing department wishes they had come out with =-)

"Dell Notebooks Catch On Fire!"

Heh (1)

Stott (132670) | more than 13 years ago | (#248140)

That's a pretty smoken computer ya got there!

What's That Smell? (1)

Shocker69 (141391) | more than 13 years ago | (#248145)

I have a dell laptop, and whenever I convert this 100 page document to a pdf file, It starts to smell like something is burning. I can be working all day and it will be fine. Kinda scary.

A gift for someone you hate. (2) (142825) | more than 13 years ago | (#248147)

Give them your Dell laptop.

They leave it plugged in long enough and burn down their house or office. It's not your fault -- you were only being nice and giving them a free computer

It has to be said... (1)

ZZane (144066) | more than 13 years ago | (#248148)

That's one hot laptop! :)


Re:Oh, shut up already... (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 13 years ago | (#248150)

--Absolute truth!

--Dell makes far and away the best laptops for the money.

--Yeah Sony's are cute and Fujitsu's have nice screens but my Latitude is great.

--SO are the other 50 in my company.

iSchadenfreude or, Michael Dell: no karma whore he (2)

connorbd (151811) | more than 13 years ago | (#248152)

The curious thing about the PB5300 connection is that Michael Dell was once quoted during Apple's dark days of '97-'98 that Apple should close down and liquidate its assets to pay off the shareholders. I think he may have been pushed into a corner by the press, but Mac folks like me are inclined to giggle up our sleeves and talk about "karma backlash". It's just not professional to shoot your mouth off like that.


Again? (1)

RESPAWN (153636) | more than 13 years ago | (#248155)

Is it just me or does it seem like notebooks catch on fire too often? Granted it doesn't happen all that often. But even once is too often. Perhaps a little more testing is in order before they ship these things off.


lol (5)

vsync64 (155958) | more than 13 years ago | (#248158)

This reminds me of the time some site (I think [] ) found out that certain PowerBooks were being recalled because they could catch on fire. They took a picture of that Vietnamese monk immolating himself and added the Apple logo and the words "Think different.".

Apple wasn't happy :-P


Space heater (1)

big_cat79 (156695) | more than 13 years ago | (#248159)

Now that our facilities people have banned space heaters (despite the building being freezing all day long) because they are a 'fire hazard', I guess I can put my inspiron under my desk so I don't loose my toes to frost bite. Roast some marshmellows too.

One Notebook on fire does not deserve this headlin (5)

Zara2 (160595) | more than 13 years ago | (#248162)

This is some seriously irresponsible journalism. 1 system caught on fire. That's it. Because of this one system overheating Dell is recalling hundreds of thousands of batteries. We should be applauding a company that is willing to do this without waffleing around like say firestone on thier tires.

Furthermore it is not completly Dells Fault. These batteries were completely manufactured by another company. Come-on slashdot. Are we trying to do News For nerds or is this site going the way of other journalistic sites where they put up whatever will sell more papers/get more page views.

Re:Geez...How old is this article? (3)

PirateBek (164098) | more than 13 years ago | (#248163)

It was released earlier today for the 5000x series. Earlier Latitude and Inspirons had problems a few months ago.

Burning the Northbridge :P (1)

jester-tx (170962) | more than 13 years ago | (#248168)

They oviously haven't tried NOSMOKE.EXE...

Re:FIRE! (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#248170)

I might as well join in the fun...

Once again, an Apple innovation [] is stolen by a PC company six years later.

Re:Oh, shut up already... (1)

SnapperHead (178050) | more than 13 years ago | (#248171)

I agree 110%, Dell Laptops are great machines. I own a Latitude CP and CPi. Works with Linux without any problems.

At least its not my model, but knowing Dell. It will be resolved for the customers pretty quickly.

until (succeed) try { again(); }

Inspiron 4000 is rather hot (2)

Fervent (178271) | more than 13 years ago | (#248172)

My Inspiron 4000 does get rather hot, hotter than any laptop I've used, but not fire-enducing. It only really heats up when I'm doing graphics-intensive stuff like 3D games (Quake III seems to take a lot out of it). The Mobility chipset is known to get warm, though.

When I'm just doing it to do basic compilations, however, the laptop stays as cool as a frozen cucumber.

It's a feature, not a flaw. (3)

3seas (184403) | more than 13 years ago | (#248174)

They should just rename it the MI-Laptop. Mission Impossible, this laptop will self-destruct in 10, 9, 8, ...
3 S.E.A.S - Virtual Interaction Configuration (VIC) - VISION OF VISIONS!

Re:Anectodal and Flaimbait Topic (1)

PrimalChrome (186162) | more than 13 years ago | (#248175)

I've owned a number of Dell laptops and never had a worry... Taco got a lemon and blames an entire company for a single very open minded for a Linux zealot.

Re:One Notebook on fire does not deserve this head (2)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | more than 13 years ago | (#248178)

You don't think one notebook PC BURSTING INTO FLAMES is any cause for alarm? It's completely Dell's fault, as they were the ones who designed a system that can CATCH FIRE when used under normal circumstances, because they failed to do adequate research into the specs on the batteries. A massive recall of the faulty batteries is the LEAST that should be expected of them.

Furthermore, you shouldn't complain about bad journalism until you learn proper spelling and punctuation.

A civil action (1)

bl968 (190792) | more than 13 years ago | (#248179)

The question is not that the batteries have the potential to catch on fire. This is a known fact. The question is who at Dell and Panasonic knew, when they knew it, and if there was any attempt at covering it up by either company. The second question begs to be How did these defective batterys get past both Panasonic's and Dell's Quality assurance teams. It does not seem reasonably possible that no one at either company knew about the problem until one happened to catch on fire...

When I'm good I'm very good, when I'm bad I'm better, But when I'm evil you better run :P

Li-Ion Battery Problems (1)

grape jelly (193168) | more than 13 years ago | (#248180)

This was a big problem with Lithium Ion batteries many years ago. Although Apple caugh a lot of the flak for having laptops that caught fire (as duely noted in previous posts), many laptop manufacturers at the time had similar problems. It's too bad that we are seeing this again.

Re:Yet another example of Apple leadership (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 13 years ago | (#248181)

And at that rate, an exploding Linux laptop will make its way out of VA sometime in 2004!

Exploding PowerBooks (2)

sulli (195030) | more than 13 years ago | (#248182)

I had one of these (PB 5300 [] , well known as the Exploding PowerBook [] due to Li-Ion batteries that caught fire) - mine didn't explode, but it did squeal like mad [] when it was charging the battery. I am now much happier with my G3!

This has happened before... (1)

buck09 (212016) | more than 13 years ago | (#248186)

About a year ago they recalled batteries on the 3000, 3500 and 3700 model laptops for the same reason. Of the ~300 or so laptops I admin'ed at the time, none of them caught fire. (unfortunately)

DEC had a famous problem with these (1)

Spinality (214521) | more than 13 years ago | (#248188)

Remember when DEC decided to make desktop systems without fans? They kept going up in smoke. It was pretty hilarious because all you had to do was look at the thing to realize that heat dissipation would be a problem. But to be fair, heat management is not as simple an issue as it may seem.

Didn't Dell have a bunch of monitors that started flaming out too? I'm pretty sure I have a couple of replacement flyback transformers that they sent out to resolve a wiring clearance problem. (I never installed them, I'm always willing to watch a monitor go up in smoke as a way to break the monotony of a Tuesday afternoon.)

Re:FIRE! (2)

Rudeboy777 (214749) | more than 13 years ago | (#248190)

This post marks the beginning of what may come to be known as the greatest rush for 'Funny' mods seen in Slashdot's storied history.

Re:One Notebook on fire does not deserve this head (1)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#248191)

This is some seriously irresponsible journalism. 1 system caught on fire. That's it. Because of this one system overheating Dell is recalling hundreds of thousands of batteries. We should be applauding a company that is willing to do this without waffleing around like say firestone on thier tires.

Hey, Apple has been taking a beating for years over their alleged combustible notebooks, also the fault of an outside vendor, also recalled responsibly -- and in that case, there were zero real-world cases of fires.

Hmm, I've been spending a lot of time defending Apple around here for the last couple of days. ;-) Fact is, though, that while there is plenty to dislike about the company, they also take a beating for things where they genuinely deserve praise, like their contributions to free software and their innovative, top-quality (if expensive) hardware.

Unsettling MOTD at my ISP.

I'm safe! (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 13 years ago | (#248192)

I have a Sony TX 505(?) laptop. The battery is dead in less than 2 years so it poses no threat. Not that it ever did. The CPU, OTOH, gets so hot I don't place it in my lap when I'm wearing shorts. So hot I _almost_ get first degree burns.


Re:OT: No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (1)

Verteiron (224042) | more than 13 years ago | (#248194)

I first got mod points shortly after I got 50 karma. Kept getting 'em every few days or so.. then when I was down at 48 karma for a while, I never got them. Now I'm back at 50 and I've been getting them again...

Are there others? (2)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#248196)

The manufacturer of these batteries cannot be shipping them to solely Dell. I'd be interested in some of the other companies that use them. Anyone know of any?

Where were you in 1995... (2)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 13 years ago | (#248198)

...when the same exact thing happened to Apple with the Powerbook 5300 (though very few if any computers had actually gotten into the hands of consumers in that instance), and the media and Apple/Mac-bashers were exaggerating the severity of it?

Personally, I think Dell and its big-mouthed, "I think Apple should close down and return the shareholders' money" CEO are long overdue for a taste of overblown, bad publicity. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

Ah, yes, Dell, so very proud of wresting the education sales crown from Apple, I just can't wait until the first schoolkid gets burned by one of their laptops and the hordes of lawyers descend.

Also gotta love that they are continuing their stringent QC from a year or two ago when they shipped CD-ROM modules for their Latitudes that did not fit any Dell laptop that was in production at the time. That was a real fun time for me where I worked. What I don't understand is, when Dell is just a me-too cloner bolting parts together and not innovating a thing, how can they not even be able to do that right and still stay in business?


t20 burned my legs (1)

Kraft (253059) | more than 13 years ago | (#248203)

Kinda. The battery on the IBM thinkpad t20 can actually get so warm, that I can't keep it on my lap.


Re:No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (2)

eXtro (258933) | more than 13 years ago | (#248205)

The problem with moderation isn't so much that things are modded up or down inappropriately but things are inappropriately unmoderated. Excessive upwards or downwards moderation is penalized in metamoderation. Many informative posts by Anonymous Cowards are left at 0. Many insightful posts that don't follow the party line are left at 1 or 0. Neither of these are captured by metamoderation.

The bulk of the moderators use their moderation points to reinforce their views rather than reward good commentary. It's been that way for quite a while which is what allowed karma whores to operate. If you can figure out what to post to increase your chances of upwards moderation you'll get moderated up.

I browse at -1, I no longer moderate though. I got tired of being hammered in metamoderation for doing what the moderation FAQ asked for: Reward good commentary, not views you sympathize with. Since I don't post often moderation put me in danger of ending up with negative karma.

Re:Please... (3)

sonny317 (300865) | more than 13 years ago | (#248209)

To top this off, according to their site [] :

"Customers will receive one replacement battery for each battery identified as subject to recall. Upon return of a recalled battery, customers will receive an additional battery at no cost."

Thats TWO brand spankin new batteries, one upon registering the defective one and one upon receipt of it... I just ordered an Inspiron 8000 two days ago, and service like this make me damn glad I went with Dell.

Re:OT: No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 13 years ago | (#248211)

Happened to me, too. Moderator twice in 3 days. Weird. I only mod up, however, rather than waste my points on goatsex fecal freaks.

Actually, it's pretty funny since I normally read at +2, and occasionally go all the way down to -1; it's like pulling away the carpet and seeing the garbage under the floor.

Re:No offense, but /. mods are hypocrites (4)

mech9t8 (310197) | more than 13 years ago | (#248217)

Read up on how the moderation system works... moderation points are given out randomly to any logged-in /. reader. (Except maybe those with negative karma.)

So saying they're hypocrites is a bit silly, as its impossible to generalize. If you want to complain about anything, complain about how the /. news posters editorialize in their headlines.

If you really want to see all the "SPORK!" messages, just change your setting to browse at -1 - you'll see everything that's been posted. Me, I'm glad the idiot comments get modded down and the intelligent ones get modded up (I browse at +3)... it makes /. the only message board on the internet that's actually worth reading...
Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.

Re:Geez...How old is this article? (2)

BIGJIMSLATE (314762) | more than 13 years ago | (#248221)

Actually, this is a new story, but yes, YET ANOTHER Dell recall due to fire.

Note, links are in text so nobody is Goatse paranoid this far up:

C|Net's version of this story the day BEFORE yahoo ran it: l

Oct-2000 Dell Fire Recall: l

Oct-2000 Compaq fire recall l

FIRE! (4)

thunderbird46 (315436) | more than 13 years ago | (#248222)

Hehe. The Ford Pinto of notebooks, eh?

Know your facts... (4)

isa-kuruption (317695) | more than 13 years ago | (#248223)

The article I originally read on yahoo stated that Panasonic was the manufacturer of the batteries, so we can not necessarily blame Dell for this.

Even so, not *everything* works correctly all the time. If this was the case, we wouldn't have this thing called innovation.

w00t w00t raise da r00f!

Ha yours catches on fire (1)

heartuvAu (320131) | more than 13 years ago | (#248225)

I put an extra 7 case fans In mine. Talk about overclocking. The only residual problem is that by put I can't put it in any lap but that of my greatest enemies.

My advice... (1)

silent_poop (320948) | more than 13 years ago | (#248226)

This may be common knowledge to some but for those that it isn't, be wary of Dell products. They are notorious for breaking and if the system has been modified in any way, without the assistance of a Dell technician, they'll will refuse to give you support. I speak from personal experience. After upgrading from win95 to 98 (perhaps I brought this upon myself by actually considering the installation of Windows) I was unable to locate the correct drivers for my video card (this is because Dell also likes to customize some of the hardware). When I called tech support, just to ask where I could locate the drivers, they refused to tell me because I had installed the operating system by myself!


Please... (2)

PorcelainLabrador (321065) | more than 13 years ago | (#248227)

I mean really, how many people do you think are actually going to take advantage of the recall to send their batteries back to Dell... and wait a few weeks to get a new one.

That's like sending your gas tank back to your car manufacturer and waiting while they UPS you a new one =) well, kinda.

FORD vs. DELL (2)

Quizme2000 (323961) | more than 13 years ago | (#248229)

Remeber the old joke/debate/urban_ledgend about if automobiles had advanced as rapidly as computers? If it only took one laptop to cause a recall for dell, but 49 deaths to cause a tire recall from FORD...I would say that the forces at work (competiton, hackers, civil lawyers)seem to have a niche for finding "major" flaws in rather stable products, instead of "Exploding, Death-inducing, bone-breaking flaws" in mass market products get recongition only after regulations and lawsuits.

Re:FIRE! (1)

Magumbo (414471) | more than 13 years ago | (#248231)

I actually call my workstation a "floor", because it sits on the "floortop". ;-P

"Fuck your mama."

Re:FIRE! (2)

Magumbo (414471) | more than 13 years ago | (#248232)

Um. If that were the case wouldn't they be exploding notebooks?

And while on the subject... What the hell is a "laptop"? Shouldn't that just be a "lap"? Surely there is no "lap bottom" or "lap side"? Please call it a "lap" or "notebook" and let's phase out this redundant shit once and for all.

"Fuck your mama."

Looks like a job for.....Tech support! (5)

cobol4me (444373) | more than 13 years ago | (#248235)

Techsupp: 'help ya? Me: My laptop is on fire! Techsupp: Sir? Me: Fire! Fire! The computer just burst into flames! Techsupp: Did you try to reboot Windows? Me: What? I said it's on fire! Techsupp: OK, you need to use Quick Restore then call us ba....[fire engine sirens in the background/screams of pain] Sir! Drop and roll! Drop the laptop and roll on it! Then use the Quick Restore CD!

It's all a marketing ploy... (4)

highway_girl (447310) | more than 13 years ago | (#248236)

Quote from the home page of;
"Notebooks & Desktops
Harnessing the power of emerging technology for blazing performance, serious multitasking & high productivity."

...they're just living up to their claims of *blazing* performance!
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