Dell laptop fires may have been downplayed

“In June, several pictures of a Dell laptop bursting into flames in Osaka, Japan showed up on the ‘Net. Although rather dramatic, the event was considered by many to be an isolated incident—a reasonable assessment given the fact that 43 laptop fires have been reported in the US since 2001 against millions of units shipped each quarter. The fault was pinned on a bad lithium-ion battery, and the tale threatened to disappear among the many odd, but unimportant news reports that hit the wires each month,” Peter Pollack reports for Ars Technica.

“Yet the story hasn’t completely gone away, and has even been given new life in light of a recent news item which claims that Dell has been keeping under wraps dozens of accounts of melting and burning notebooks. According to the story, those problems—many of which center around the battery—were responsible in part for Dell’s recall of 22,000 laptop computer batteries last year,” Pollack reports.

“The unnamed source, who apparently works for Dell, provided a wide variety of documentation on faulty computers to back up his or her claims. Among the listed symptoms: several units that melted and warped around the cooling fan; a laptop that was ‘melted, mangled, and charred black’ in one corner; several computers that had melted or burned the battery cover; and one unit with a two-inch hole where the case had melted,” Pollack reports.

Full article here.

CRN also covers the story here.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
Dell warns of earnings miss; shares plunge 15% – July 21, 2006
Temperature Test: Apple MacBook vs. Dell Latitude D620 – July 18, 2006
NY Times: Dell’s exploding laptop and other image problems – July 10, 2006
Survey shows big jump in consumer interest in buying Apple Mac; Dell takes steep slide – July 06, 2006
The Wired 40: Apple #2, Microsoft drops to #36, Dell falls off list – June 28, 2006
Dell laptop explodes into flames at Japanese conference – June 21, 2006
Time Magazine on Apple’s 13-inch MacBook: ‘Dell and HP should be very worried’ – June 07, 2006
Apple passes Dell in market value – May 02, 2006
InformationWeek: Apple Mac run Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux; Dell and HP should be concerned – May 01, 2006
Dude, you got a Dell? What are you, stupid? Only Apple Macs run both Mac OS X and Windows! – April 05, 2006
Apple beats Dell: lands deal to supply 12,675 iBooks to Henrico County Middle Schools [UPDATED] – February 09, 2006
Dell dumps line of hard drive-based MP3 players, nobody notices for over a month – February 06, 2006
Apple Mac is #1 in European education market, pushes Dell down into second place – February 03, 2006
Steve Jobs emails Apple team: Michael Dell not the best prognosticator, Apple worth more than Dell – January 16, 2006
Why buy a Dell when Apple’s Intel-based computers will run both Mac OS X and Windows? – June 08, 2005 (Perhaps you like to roast marshmallows while applying security patches to Windows?)


  1. ” …this could happen to anyone in the computer business since the batteries are purchased from other manufacturers.”

    I disagree. This is part and parcel of the cost-cutting enterprise that Dell has chosen to run. You specify and use materials from the lowest bidder in order to cut your costs to the bone, and this is what happens.

    Burn, baby, burn.

  2. i work on gateway laptops and i’ve seen several that have burned and melted. the problem sounds similar to the dells and the best part is, the managers take pictures of the burned, charred, and/or melted units. its kind of funny. also a problem with certain gateways is they have a hinge that isn’t properly lubricated and is causing the base and top assmeblies to break and inturn gateway is charging the customers for their short comings. its horrible. thats why i use a mac. no windows ran peices of junk for me.

  3. Auto makers have been taken to the cleaners for covering up self-igniting products. Why should PC makers be somehow exempt?

    I don’t care what the percentage is; even a single fire is grounds for a full-blown investigation and, if necessary, recall.

    IMO laptop computers need to be under special scrutiny because people use them on airplanes. What if one of those laptops decides to ignite over the middle of the Atlantic? There needs to be a class of certified-as-airworthy laptop computers; all others should be banned from flights.

    Hopefully it won’t take a major catastrophe to make this happen.

  4. This also may be a problem that goes hand-in-hand with offshore manufacturing. It may not necessarily be that offshore vendors do a poor job, but it also may point to the difficulties of maintaining standards and quality control when a product is designed in the USA, supplied using parts from across the world and assembled in various plants around the globe. Apple easily could be bitten by these same issues at any time if they don’t exercise extra controls over the process…

  5. You think burning Dells are bad, I have a real horror story for you.

    My first Windows laptop was a Dell Inspiron loaded with Windows ME.

    That plastic POS was a Nightmare on the hardware side and a Total Nightmare on the OS side.

    I haven’t used it in 4 years and it still hurts to talk about it.

  6. I use Macs but the same can’t be said for my dog Frank. He likes Dell. I told him “Frank, one of these days that laptop’s going to burn you” but he wouldn’t listen to me. Time passed and one day Frank was surfing indelicate sites when the Dell blew sky-high! Frank went flying over the palm trees followed by our trailer! Luckily he landed on a fat bitch so the story has a happy ending, but damn!

  7. “Auto makers have been taken to the cleaners for covering up self-igniting products. Why should PC makers be somehow exempt?”

    Because computer users aren’t strapped inside their machines when they ignite…

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