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Toshiba laptop batteries could burn users

Laptops with Sony-made batteries recalled

Toshiba is recalling a small batch of laptop batteries that could overheat and burn users, a company spokesman said today.

About 5,100 Sony-made lithium-ion batteries are defective, spanning 10 models of Toshiba laptops, some of which are essentially the same model but carry a different name in different regions, said Manuel Linnig, Toshiba spokesman in Germany.

The latest recall involves a different type of battery than in September 2006 when more than 8 million rechargeable lithium-ion batteries made by Sony were recalled.

Those batteries, which were in a range of laptops from Apple, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Gateway, Sony and Toshiba, suffered a defect that could cause them to short circuit. Most recently, one laptop caught fire in May due to a battery that had not been replaced.

In a worse-case scenario, the defective batteries in this latest recall could cause burns to users, as well as damage the computer, Linnig said.

"We had some reports coming from Japan and Australia where they simply got too warm, but nobody got injured, luckily," he said.

The batteries were made around December 2005 and installed in laptops between January and April 2006. Five models were sold in Japan, with five others sold outside Japan, Linnig said.

Toshiba plans to put a utility application on its website in the next day or so that checks if a laptop is vulnerable and informs the consumer, Linnig said. For those who don't want to download an application, a document will be posted so users can identify their batteries by serial number.

Affected users can then fill out an online form, and Toshiba will send them a postage-paid envelope to return the defective battery, and the company will then mail them out a new one, Linnig said.

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