Sony Vaio laptop in mass 'recall'

Image caption,
The 'recall' covers both the F and C series Vaio laptops

Authorities in the US have instructed Sony to conduct a recall of its Vaio laptops, after problems with overheating were reported.

Sony said the problem affects more than half a million of its F and C series laptops sold since the start of 2010.

The American Consumer Product Safety Commission said that "the computers can overheat, posing a burn hazard."

But Sony said that this is "not a recall" and that the problem can be rectified with a software patch.

Although there are no reports of any users suffering burns, Sony say it has received a number of reports of its laptop overheating, distorting keyboards and casings.

Sony says 260,000 laptops in the US, 103,000 in Europe, 120,000 in South East Asia and 52,000 in Japan need to be fixed.

"The word recall has been used by the CPSC in the States, but we are not calling it that," Nick Sharples, Sony's European communications director told BBC News.

"It is possible to update the firmware online, which will rectify the problem," he added.

Yet again

Tim Danton, editor of PC Pro magazine, told BBC News that hardware recalls were nothing new and he was surprised there had not been more this year.

"Laptops are particularly susceptible to overheating; hardly surprising when you are cramming so much hot running hardware into such a small space," he said.

"One firm who may be concerned is graphics card manufacturer nVidia as its chipset is featured in a laptop that is overheating, even if we don't yet know the exact cause.

"In 2008 Hewlett Packard recalled tens of thousands of their Pavilion laptops due to overheating issues and that also used an nVidia chipset," he added.

Sony have also conducted product recalls in the past. In 2006 the firm recalled over 100,000 batteries after concerns they were overheating and, in a few rare cases, exploding; while in 2008 it recalled 400,000 Vaio laptop computers worldwide because of wiring faults.

"We don't yet know how many people are actually suffering from overheating issues," said Mr Danton. "So we don't yet know how many people will actually return their laptops or patch their computer.

"The only real risk to Sony is damage to their reputation, but that - like other recalls - swiftly diminishes over time."

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