Printing-ink veterans don't take cyberspace journalists too seriously - Roy Greenslade, Guardian Online
TRUE TO PREVIOUS FORM a Dell laptop has caught fire and caused alarm.
We have covered the incendiary feature of Dell laptops for some ten years and can trace our reporting back to an adapter recall in 2004, and an incident in 2006 when a reader witnessed an attempt at phoenix-like manoeuvres in Japan.
Since then we have witnessed the recall of some four million units with suspect battery packs, and then an almost annual product recall. Dell updated recall information three times since 2006, alerting users to issues with hardware in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
Its last recall was in September 2009, and at that time Dell added an extra 18,000 units to its earlier recall announcements. Traditionally it blames Sony lithium-ion batteries.
Now, in a latest strike against the laps and desktops of humanity, another Dell laptop has triggered self-immolation and ruined a woman's afternoon.
The tiny Langhorne Manor borough in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was the scene of the incident, according to a report at CBS news, and the incident was rather severe.
"It blew up. It flipped my computer back and the battery pack and all came out this way," said victim Loretta Luff. "The next thing I knew, my shirt was on fire, I grabbed that and took that off and I think that's when I singed my hair."
CBS said that Luff was burned on the head, face, arm and foot. Reporters also spoke to local fire officials who observed that the explosion sent laptop parts in all directions in a eight foot radius.
"The battery pack was on the floor. It was in pieces," said Langhorne-Middletown fire company chief Frank Farry. "And then there were various plastic parts that landed in different areas within her living room."
Luff said that she swapped the battery out about three years ago and is not sure whether it is a Dell unit.
A Dell spokesperson said in a statement, "Dell places the highest priority on the evaluation and investigation of all safety and potential safety issues for the products that we and our suppliers produce.
"When Dell becomes aware of an incident, we handle it with the goals of assuring customer safety and a thorough failure analysis. Dell will take appropriate steps to investigate this incident.
"It’s also important to note that, in our product documentation, Dell tells customers that 'using an incompatible battery or a third-party battery may increase the risk of fire or explosion and that they should replace the battery only with a battery purchased from Dell that is designed to work with their Dell computer'." µ
Sign up for INQbot – a weekly roundup of the best from the INQ