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Portables (Apple) Announcements United States Hardware

PowerBook G4 Battery Recall 337

Posted by michael
from the public-service dept.
Beelsebob writes "Apple have put out a recall on a certain group of PowerBook G4 batteries. If you have a PowerBook G4 (Aluminum) 15" and your battery's model number is A1045, and its serial number starts HQ404, HQ405, HQ406, HQ407, or HQ408, then you could be at risk of it overheating."
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PowerBook G4 Battery Recall

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  • Mmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:34PM (#10014685)
    I love baked Apples.
  • yaay! (Score:5, Funny)

    by kmmatthews (779425) * <krism@mailsnare.net> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:34PM (#10014694) Homepage Journal
    Well, it keeps my lap nice and warm, since I couldn't afford my heating bill after purchasing the powerbook... ;)

    Gotta get your priorities straight, s'all.
  • by tao_of_biology (666898) <tao.of.biology@g ... minus physicist> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:35PM (#10014699)
    I have the phrase "HQ405" burned into the top of my thigh... All the chicks think it's a prison tatoo.
  • replace (Score:5, Informative)

    by BoldAC (735721) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:35PM (#10014702)
    ZDNet Story [com.com]
    Forbes [forbes.com]

    I had always felt there was an overheating problem. People in the newsgroups and suggested that I recondition my battery... which maybe helped some.

    Anyway, glad to know that I'll be getting a new battery out of it.

    AC
    • Re:replace (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AKAImBatman (238306)
      This is actually somewhat surprising as Apple has always been careful not to burn people's laps. Dell laptops, OTOH, have been known to cause injuries from the high temperatures at which they operate. I'm guessing that's why Apple has been so careful about the temperature of their laptops.

      FYI, the iBook I'm typing this on keeps cool enough not to even need the fan running. The only time the fan kicks in is when I place it on a poor surface (e.g. a blanket while watching a movie). Even then, it never gets h
  • by XaviorPenguin (789745) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#10014725) Homepage Journal
    1. Go to store and by some hard Caramel candy, at least a pound

    2. Place pieces unwrapped on keyboard of Powerbook and turn on. Place the pieces on every other key to allow maximum coverage of Caramel

    3. Let over heat and allow Caramel to spread

    4. Enjoy!
  • by Gannoc (210256) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#10014731)
    I have a powerbook, and I love it, but after using it on my lap for 30 minutes, I can't have children anymore.

  • by SpiffyMarc (590301) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:37PM (#10014734)
    For a company that puts so much emphasis on portable devices, Apple certainly has a lot of problems [ipodbatteryfaq.com] with [macnn.com] batteries [operationgadget.com].
    • by badasscat (563442) <basscadet75NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:50PM (#10014900)
      For a company that puts so much emphasis on portable devices, Apple certainly has a lot of problems with batteries.

      And you didn't even link the most dramatic case, that of actual exploding batteries [wired.com]. And no, this isn't some Nokia-like third party battery situation, these were the real Apple-supplied batteries (though that article does go out of the way to point out they were "Sony-made").

      Apple's got some real quality control issues, despite their reputation. They seem to have at least one or two recalls per year for various reasons ranging from defective batteries to defective power supplies to defective screens, as well as other problems that are common complaints but that they do nothing about (such as the iPod battery service life issue). The recall I noted above was actually a safety issue, and I would guess the overheating batteries in the G4 PB's might be a safety issue as well.

      I'd still buy an Apple for other reasons, but quality control is not one of them, public perception notwithstanding. They're certainly no better than any other manufacturer and may actually be somewhat worse (IBM, for example, has had fewer recalls over the same period).
      • by david_reese (460043) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @04:42PM (#10016780)
        Apple's got some real quality control issues, despite their reputation. They seem to have at least one or two recalls per year for various reasons ranging from defective batteries to defective power supplies to defective screens, as well as other problems that are common complaints but that they do nothing about (such as the iPod battery service life issue). The recall I noted above was actually a safety issue, and I would guess the overheating batteries in the G4 PB's might be a safety issue as well.

        Guess their "reputation" also includes independent consumer reports studies [maccentral.com]... (note: link is to maccentral forums, but the info is from valid consumer reports articles... updated as of Jun04, I checked).

      • by Lars T. (470328) <Lars DOT Traeger AT googlemail DOT com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @07:52PM (#10018470) Journal
        And you didn't even link the most dramatic case, that of actual exploding batteries. And no, this isn't some Nokia-like third party battery situation, these were the real Apple-supplied batteries (though that article does go out of the way to point out they were "Sony-made"). Apple's got some real quality control issues, despite their reputation.

        Too bad (for you) that not a single one of those 5300s exploded in the lap of a customer, because Apple found out about the problem before any machines where shipped. Which means they had good quality control. Quite unlike Dell, over and over again.

    • by the MaD HuNGaRIaN (311517) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:54PM (#10014950)
      And Dell never has battery problems [google.com]
    • by Otter (3800) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:58PM (#10014999) Journal
      For a company that puts so much emphasis on portable devices, Apple certainly has a lot of problems...

      I don't think that's a paradox -- Apple is continually pushing to have the smallest, lightest, longest-lasting portable devices and that means early adoption of new battery technology and enclosures. It's not surprising that their products run into more issues than boat-anchor Toshibas or MP3 players powered by AA batteries.

      • Once again: the issue isn't that the battery life is bad. The issue is that they claim the battery life as one thing then it turns out to be another. See iBook and 3rd-generation iPod.
        • Do you even own an iBook, PB or iPod? Or are you just repeating second-hand gossip from a friend of a friend who once knew someone who thought he saw a PowerBook one time on a train?

          Neither of my PowerBooks nor my 2nd and 3rd gen iPods have any battery problems at all. After 2 years my 2nd gen iPod still ran for 8 hours and my 3rd gen is better.

          Take your FUD and stick it where the sun don't shine.

          • I owned a 3G player and it was horrible. Had 4 friends with 3G's as well. All had the exact same problem though they didn't realize it. 3G players had bad batteries by design and I'm convinced it's 100% of production.

            How long does yours last off the charger when you aren't using it? Any iPod competitor would last a month or more. 3G iPods won't come close to a week.
    • eh All of the laptop makers have had battery problems... there was once YEARS ago a problem with the old laptop batterys exploding though contrary to popular fiction, no ever did make it out to the public.

      And as for the iPod battery... mine is STILL going strong, and I have a 1st gen. That battery problem was SO blown out of proportion it isnt even funny and those "brothers" ended up looking like fools in the end.

      But apple isnt the only group to have battery problems so why beat up on them.

      • The 1G players weren't the worst ones for battery problems. Even the best, properly working 3G players had crappy batteries. Take a properly working 3G player, charge it and remove it from charge. Three days later it's mostly dead.

        Don't have a 4G, but the 1G players were by far the best of the first 3.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10014737)
    Hmm HQ... cant see the rest. Its melted away. How do I tell?
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10014742) Homepage Journal
    ohh...

    never mind.

  • by InternationalCow (681980) <mauricevansteensel&mac,com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10014744) Journal
    Just goes to show that there is nothing new under the sun. It has happened before [highbeam.com]. Rather annoying and shameful for Apple that is should happen again in one of the most popular powerbooks.
  • Hm (Score:3, Funny)

    by The-Bus (138060) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10014745)
    I didn't know Apple started putting Intel chips in their Powerbooks.
    • Yeah they use a couple of those obsolete Intel CPUs to handle battery power management. What are they called now.... hmm oh yes Pentium 4 EE (EE for Energy Efficient I think).

  • by detritus` (32392) * <{gro.osyasew} {ta} {ekztiwa}> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:38PM (#10014747) Homepage Journal
    At least they manufactured these batteries using the improved Li-ion technology, if it was the older style it wouldnt just overheat, it'd most likely start a runaway reaction that would end in quite toasted laptops. I think it was 150 Degrees F or so that this would start at, i know i heard of several cell phones left in hot cars that did this, and at least 1 nokia that burnt up while charging.
  • Ah (Score:5, Funny)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:39PM (#10014767) Homepage
    Reminds me of that ebay auction for a laptop cooling pad where the headline was "Don't burn your penis". Does anyone have a screenshot of that?

    I think "don't burn your penis" is good general advice as well, not just in regards to laptops.
    • by wiredog (43288)
      But I knew a guy who did that. Ya see, he came home one night, drunk, and the power was out. But he had to piss. So he went into the bathroom. Lights were out. So he used the cigarette lighter to provide light so he could aim. Then he grabbed his willy so that he could piss. He grabbed it with the hand holding the lit cigarette lighter.

      He was very drunk...

  • This time it's not supposed to burst into flames [lowendmac.com], just overheat.
  • by Letter (634816) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:41PM (#10014787)
    Dear Slashdot,

    Here, lemme just pop out the battery and check my serial numb

    • Re:Dear Slashdot (Score:3, Informative)

      by nordicfrost (118437) *
      Funny, yes. Bu you can put it in hibernation and then look at the battery. I did, and lo and behold. The battery starts with HQ407, so I have filled out the form on the Apple recall site.
      • by rampant mac (561036) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:24PM (#10015922)
        "Funny, yes. But you can put it in hibernation and then look at the battery. I did, and lo and behold. The battery starts with HQ407, so I have filled out the form on the Apple recall site."

        That reminds me of when I was on a flight from Boston to Seattle and I was doing some work on the flight using my PowerBook. The battery started getting really low, and I remember saving my documents (Word, Keynote and Dreamweaver, if my memory serves me) and closing the lid, turning the laptop over and yanking out the battery... The man sitting next to me started to say "Hey, I don't think..." while I slapped in a fresh battery and opened up the lid, resuming my work where I had left off. "Wow, that's amazing!" he exclaimed. "Yeah, it is nice to be able to work the whole time during these long flights." I replied. To my horror the moron (who was using an older model Thinkpad) flips his laptop over and proceeds to rip out his battery right before my very eyes only to discover, moments later, that his computer didn't support hibernation mode quite as well.

        He didn't save his work before attempting said stunt.

        We didn't talk much after that.

  • Hmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm going on an international flight next week. Does this mean that I'll get stopped by security when I try to take my Powerbook through? :-)
  • by Lord Grey (463613) * on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:43PM (#10014817)
    This article [bizjournals.com] has a couple more details on the battery problem. From the article:
    An internal short in the batteries made by LG Chem Ltd., of South Korea, can cause the battery cells to overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers.
    In addition, note that the battery's model number must be A1045 -- the serial number prefix alone doesn't uniquely identify the battery.
    • Got a letter from Verizon and LG saying they got a bunch of "fake" LG batteries that they were recalling due to overheating.

      The lengths they went to to emphasize the batteries were not really LG made me wonder...
  • by StevenHenderson (806391) <stevehenderson&gmail,com> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:44PM (#10014828)
    Guy #1: "Man this Powerbook is HOT."
    Guy #2: "Yeah, it is pretty sexy I guess."
    Guy #1: "No, I mean it is singeing my pubes dude."
  • One more... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Glendale2x (210533)
    serial number series A1045 is under the recall, too.
    • Re:One more... (Score:4, Informative)

      by kannibal_klown (531544) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:12PM (#10015124)
      No...

      A1045 is the model number, not the serial number.

      A1045 is like saying "The Chevy Malibu." The serial numbers are like saying "if your VIN number starts with ..." or more broadly "models made between 1995 and 1997."

      My battery is model number A1045, but it's serial number is not in the supplied list. Therefore, mine doesn't have a problem.
    • Re:One more... (Score:2, Informative)

      by Aesiq (190001)
      Incorrect, you need to have model number A1045 AND one of the HQ serial numbers listed. Just having A1045 DOES NOT indicate a faulty battery.

      From Apple's site:

      A. No, only batteries with Model No. A1045 and serial numbers beginning with: HQ404, HQ405, HQ406, HQ407, HQ408 are affected by the recall program.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 19, 2004 @01:54PM (#10014949)
    New battery? For free? Ahh, kick ass!!!!!
    Those third degree burns are finally starting to pay off!!!!
  • by AgTiger (458268) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:18PM (#10015196) Homepage
    "After serial number verification, a new battery will be shipped to you free of charge. When you receive the replacement battery, please use the same shipping envelope and included prepaid shipping label to return the recalled battery to Apple."

    How appropriate, they're using an in-the-field hot-swap method. ;-)

    "The swap's hot, so it doesn't get too hot." (my version of Yogi Berra's logic in the infamous AFLAC Barber Shop commercial [crawford.com].)
  • Apple Store (Score:3, Funny)

    by lateralus_1024 (583730) <mattbaha@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday August 19, 2004 @02:29PM (#10015319)
    "I actually saw a salesguy at the Apple Store try to sell a Powerbook while it was on fire! True story. The customer was hesitant at first, but when he offered to throw in a refurbished 5GB iPod with spare battery assembly kit for an additional $179, the customer caved in.
    Another AppleStore salesguy chimed in and moved in to assist. He added that this Powerbook will virtually seemlessly integrate to the 2007 BMW 6 series."

    Total cost of Mac ownership:
    $2199(powerbook)
    +$179(refurb/discoun ted iPod)
    +$45999-67000 estimated MSRP(BMW 6Series)options vary

    TCO = ~49000-70000 USDollars.

    This independent case study brought to you buy MSFT/Dell.

  • by Lethyos (408045) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @03:14PM (#10015796) Journal

    Let me say that these batteries suck ass. I don't know if anyone else has had similar experiences with their 15" TiPB (please comment here if you have) where battery life seems to drop like a stone even when the laptop is asleep. It used to last nearly three hours, and that was even under heavy load. Now adays, not even a year after my purchase, just sitting idle will kill my battery in roughly one and a half hours. When I contacted Apple, I really just got snubbed. They claimed that the PMU wasn't "calibrated" right and I needed to drain the battery to zero, reset the firmware, then charge back up to 100%. No change (and that even sounds like a bad idea with lithium ion batterries). Anyone have any luck getting replacements in light of horrible performance?

    • Well if you mistreat your battery it wil do that. It's not just Apple either. I killed one battery by leaving the PowerBook in the car in the summer, and an iBook battery by forgetting it overnight in the winter (we had some -5 degree nights last winter). I also killed a cell batery on one of those occasions, and a Compaq LiIon battery on another.

      A great way to kill your batteries is to let them sit when they're discharged. LiIon needs to be charged as much as possible. We lost about forty batteries at my
      • Well if you mistreat your battery it wil do that.

        And could you explain to me how I've abused my battery? Is using the laptop the same as abuse? When I say "idle", I was describing the state of the system, not what I was doing with the laptop. Imagine I'm reading Slashdot or some document, as opposed to, say, a code-compile-debug development cycle.

        I killed one battery by leaving the PowerBook in the car in the summer, and an iBook battery by forgetting it overnight in the winter...

        I have kept this

  • by Tairnyn (740378)
    In other news, air cooled by the frigid waters deep in Lake Ontario started bringing relief to G4 Powerbooks in downtown Toronto on Tuesday after the valves were symbolically opened on the multi-million-dollar project. http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/08/1 8/0056252&tid=126&tid=14 [slashdot.org]
  • My friend was over at my place last night gaming with one of the affected Macs. Lo and behold, the battery was hot as hell after a few hours. I think I could find a use for the defective battery, though.

    Run laptop for 2 hours. Remove battery. Find sleeping roommate/spouse. Put hot battery in roommate's/spouse's left hand. Watch person piss themselves. Retrieve battery. Laugh.

    It's a lot simpler than using the warm water/left-hand/piss in your pants trick, since no one will ever suspect the battery.
  • Common AA's (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is the bad thing about PROPRIETARY BATTERIES .

    Support the engineers who build their devices around common, replaceable batteries. You really can buy lithium-ion cells. And metal-hydride cells.
  • by russotto (537200) on Thursday August 19, 2004 @10:25PM (#10019231) Journal
    The defective batteries were manufactured the last week of 2003. Get the feeling the regular (senior) QC people were taking the whole week off and the poor slobs at the bottom of the totem pole were stuck at work during the holiday? (yes, both Christmas and New Years Day are Korean holidays)

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