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Dell Notebooks Catch On Fire! 188

Mr_Person writes "Dell Computer will recall about 284,000 notebook batteries due to a flaw in batteries incorporated in Inspiron 5000 and 5000(e) notebooks. The flaw causes the batteries to produce excessive amounts of heat, in fact, at least one notebook has even gotten to the point of catching on fire!" I thought the worst part of Dell Laptops was the fact that they broke all the time, and that they billed me for months after I shipped them the laptop back claiming they never got it. Maybe you could use Dell Laptops as an alternate heat source, what with rising gas prices *rimshot*
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Dell Notebooks Catch On Fire!

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    What do we do with a completely anectodal and flamebait topic? I'll go anectodal: I love my Dell Laptop. It kicks ass. It cost half of what the IBM was, and it is close to three times the machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Aliens land in Wyoming, Ship Uses Linux

    Larry Ellison is the Anti-Christ, Bible Scholars Say

    CmdrTaco Uses Windows at Home- say sources

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh yeah, I am so sure Michael is SLIGHTLY embarrassed. He has just managed to give Steve Jobs more ammo in the escalating war of words between Apple & Dell.

    As I recall, Mr. Dell made a comment about Apple's flaming powerbooks a few years back. Maybe instead of jabbing them he should have asked Apple how not to create a flaming notebook.

    I can hardly wait for all of the payback.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or if works the way it happened to me... 1. You register for a battery. 2. You wait 4 weeks. 3. You call them up. They say they didn't receive the registration, but they agree to send a new battery. 5. Wait 4 weeks again. 6. Call Dell again. They say the replacement was cancelled, but can't tell me why. I talk to a supervisor. She agrees to send me a battery. 7. Dell rep calls me to schedule time to come out to replace battery. I tell them the send me the battery. They say they can't send it, they have to have a technician do it. I tell them this is lame, but send the tech out. 8. Tech calls 3 days later, arranges time to show up. 9. Tech shows up next day, swaps battery out. He's in the building less than 30 seconds. 10. 1 month later, Dell sends 2nd battery.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    People don't really try to run Linux on laptops, do they?

    What would be the point? Linux is a time sharing system. Most laptops have one, or at most two serial ports. Where would you hook up the banks of dumb terminals?
  • by Russ Steffen ( 263 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:57AM (#248055) Homepage

    If Dell eus this recall like they did the previous battery recall, it will work like this:

    1. You register for a replacement battery
    2. They ship a new battey out to you.
    3. You put your old battery in the box the new one came in, and slap on the included prepaid shipping lable.
    4. Send it back to Dell

    It worked out pretty well then.

  • Yep, Dell makes some pretty good laptops, although I have a couple of issues with my Latitude CPxH that really prevent me from recommending them to my friends.

    1. These suckers get hot. If you leave the machine in your lap and do some work, you will be sweating in a half hour or less, even in a cold room. Unfortunatly, this appears to be a feature of all PII and PIII based laptops I've tried so far.
    2. Screen marks. This is the real killer, some of the keys on the keyboard (spacebar especially) sometimes work loose a little and leave perminant marks on the screen (when the lid is closed, the keys rub on the screen). I've seen this on several models of Latitudes now, from the old P166 to the new PIII500s.
    3. Flaky graphics on the newer machines. The ATI Rage mobility is a mediocre card with horrendous Windows drivers. I got tired of reading ATIDRAB.DLL on the BSODs after awhile, and the backing store on the pointer frequently got messed up and effectivly hid the pointer. The TV-out is a nice touch though, I wish more laptops had it.
    4. This isn't the first time there's been problems with batteries from Dell, these Latitudes had the exact same problem (although it was caught before any laptop cought fire last time). Dell needs to ditch this battery manufacturer.
    5. The screws that holds the keyboard flush with the case tend to work their way out after awhile. This is pretty minor except that the arrow keys get really mushy and insensitive if you don't keep on top of it.
    6. Only two buttons on the trackpad. Sony and HP figured it out, why can't you Dell?
    7. The docking station for these guys is flaky. Mine seem to die about every 6 months or so, and I take good care of it. The sound passthrough doesn't work right at all, and serial port traffic is very spotty through the dock (I've put my palm cradle on another machine because the Dell was never able to successfully finish syncing before losing connection).
    8. Dell does ship a fairly nice DVD drive (a Toshiba, much better than the Mitsumis on the HPs), no complaints there
    9. There's only one PS/2 port on the back, which seems commonplace with laptops these days, although I can't figure out why. USB mice and keyboards aren't really available in numbers yet, and if you hook up a keyboard, you are almost certainly going to hook up a mouse. Serial mice are getting pretty hard to find these days as well, and it's not like there isn't enough room on the back to shoehorn another PS/2 port in there.
      1. Well, this is probablly more than anybody wanted to read. If you have the impression that I wouldn't really recommend any laptop on the market right now, you'd probably be right, although I'd love for someone to prove me wrong on that last point. :)

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Damn, now I'm a little annoyed that my Latitude wasn't subject to the recall. :)

    There's another side to this. Laptop batteries degrade slowly over time. I certainly noticed this. When I first got my laptop I could play a full DVD and half of another one before the battery would start getting low. Now I'm only barely finishing the first one before it's time to swap batteries. Too bad the battery charger puts so much noise on the audio lines (there is a definate warbling hum on the speakers when I plug the laptop into the TV) and I have to run it off of battery power to watch DVDs.

    Down that path lies madness. On the other hand, the road to hell is paved with melting snowballs.
  • Do you call your workstation a desk?

  • You are incorrect a to the cause of innovation. People don't innovate because something doens't work right, they innovate because they can make it work even better. They innovate because that's what people do. Even perfectly working technologies get replaced by better (or just different) things. The batteries in Dell laptops, even if they worked perfectly, will be replaced by better, smaller, longer lasting and more environment friendly batteries, and it has nothing to do with how good (or bad) they are right now.
  • I'm surprised more people haven't experienced self imolation with laptops. These suckers get HOT after a while. Anybody seen the "Laptop Cookin'" flyer on []?

    Maybe with the later versions of laptops, they'll bundle a package of marshmallows rather than Microsoft Works. You might get more done in the long run anyway with the marshmallows. :)

  • by Kostya ( 1146 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @10:28AM (#248061) Homepage Journal
    I'm sure you already figured this out, but just in case and for others out there ...

    (I own a 5000)

    Tip #1 Never place your laptop on a bed, on cushy upholstery, soft carpet, comforter, etc. for long periods of time or operation

    If you want to fry your laptop, your couch, or your own leg (i.e. under a comforter), that's the fastest way. From what I can gather, the laptop is designed to radiate heat downward. When you place it on an insulator like a carpet, a bed, or a comforter, it gets hot REALLY fast.

    Yes, it is a laptop. But I wouldn't recommend curling up with it on a cold night with your favorite quilt--unless your heat is out.

    Tip #2 Fan == "Danger Will Robinson!"

    Shortly after owning my laptop, I noticed that the little fan in the back would come on and turn off. One day, the area under the Enter key was super hot--I could feel it through my keyboard. I ejected my modem and ethernet cards and I couldn't hold them they were so hot! I grew worried (I really love this laptop) and so I called support thinking my fan was busted. The info I go was shocking.

    The standard operating temperature for the processor is 150F. The fan kicks on only if the processor is starting to operate out of the spec'd range of "standard". If your processor starts getting up around 180F, the fan kicks on to cool it off.

    Those numbers are based on memory, but they feel right (i.e. by how hot my cards get ).

    Now, I don't care how many assurance that Dell tech gave me--180F is not a Good Thing[tm]. When I hear my fan kick on, I usually give my laptop a quick look-over to make sure I can't do anything to help it cool down. Proping the back end up on a book *might* help.

    Needless to say, if your fan is on for a long time, you might want to check on your laptop. OTOH, maybe your just cracking blocks ;-)

    (disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for anything stupid or reasonable you do with your own laptop; take or ignore this advice at your own risk)

    All that being said, I really dig my 5000. I loaded it up with a crap load of memory and a big HDD--it is a great development tool on the Commuter rail. I just always make sure to score a table in the middle of the double-decker cars. My right leg is getting scorched (kidding).

  • I've owned and administered dozens of Dells. I've had few if any problems, and always, always Dell has provided excellent support --and more than half the time they did't need to: absolutely kicks ass

    Yeah, they're good, but not perfect. They just recalled a RAID controller because it could randomly corrupt data. You know how much fun it is to call up a client and let them know the system will be down while we fix something that may have been randomly scrambling their data over the past few months?

  • - 40GB HDs that would only recognize as 8GB drives. The fix? Have them install MaxBlast or similar software.

    That sounds suspiciously like a problem I've run into in NT4.0 (on non-Dell machines), rather than a problem with any particular Dell.
  • Well, it's not really a problem with the cells, it's either the battery pack or the charging system. LiIon cells WILL catch fire if they are overcharged. The battery pack will have sensors inside to detect the temperature and internal pressure of the batteries. The charger should respond to this and stop charging when the cells are full. It's entirely possible that this particular proprietary battery pack is defective (overcharges the cells in it) and catches fire, without there being anything wrong with the cells themselves. Catching fire is a known problem with LiIon, which is why you will never see raw LiIon cells for sale to consumers. They are supposed to be assembled into sealed packs with safety circuitry built-in. IOW, there's nothing wrong with the CELLS in this pack, there's something wrong with the design of the pack or the charger it plugs into.
  • Finally a long last programmer's dream is fulfilled. Finally there is a comp on which one can fry eggs.
    For nearly 20 years people often dreamed, after long hours of hard work, about eating some snack right on the workplace. This dream was frequently remarked by the claiming that the "comp is so hot that one can fry some bacon with eggs". However the real temperatures where still well below the desired values. It was hard even to boil water and only a few brave overclockers could manage to achieve this. So one had always to rise his a.. to get some hot food.

    Today that dream is reality...
  • Although the obvious surplus of mod points lately is screwing up my system... there's no way my 'this is how the mod system works' message was worth a 5... a 5 used to be something you had to work for... now they're everywhere; almost everything that gets a 3 ends up as 5 as too many people are dishing out the points...

    I've only had moderator points once, and it was quite some time ago, but it seems to me that people will go through the entire list of comments before clicking the "Moderate" button. This means that they don't see that many of the good posts have already been moderated up while they were reading the list.

    This has the benefit of seeing which posts were well-liked by many, but it does lead to other good posts being lost in the cracks while a few get high points.

    What might prove interesting (at least, for a trial period) would be a secondary confirmation page that pops up when the moderator clicks the "Moderate" button and shows him what the results of his moderation will be on the posts that he's chosen to moderate. If it takes information from the Slashdot server, and not the previous page, the moderator can then see whether someone has already moderated them and can decide accordingly.

    I dunno. Just a thought :)

  • ``The evil Dr. Claw has taken over a Dell factory as part of his schemes. Investigate the factory and stop Claw. This laptop will self-destruct.''
  • Ah, yes, Dell, so very proud of wresting the education sales crown from Apple, I just can't wait until the first schoolkid gets burned by one of their laptops and the hordes of lawyers descend.
    Why not? Dell is not a monopoly, they won it fair and square. The fact of the matter is that Dell is able to deliver a better value to the schools than Apple can with their propreitary systems. Just because Apple does some things very well does not mean they deserve endangered species status. While I do not agree with the "close down" sentiments entirely, you should realize that Dell was competing against Apple at the time and that there is some truth to that statement. The only reason that Apple has managed to stay alive is because they've been able to carve out a niche for themselves. If they had to compete neck and neck against Dell's wintel business model, they would have been utterly crushed long ago with their small economies of scale, proprietary hardware, higher inventories, lesser utilized OS, etc.

    Also gotta love that they are continuing their stringent QC from a year or two ago when they shipped CD-ROM modules for their Latitudes that did not fit any Dell laptop that was in production at the time. That was a real fun time for me where I worked. What I don't understand is, when Dell is just a me-too cloner bolting parts together and not innovating a thing, how can they not even be able to do that right and still stay in business?
    Dell is hardly just a "me too" cloner. The fact of the matter is that they dominate the OEM computer market. It is not accident. They have excellent manufacturing systems, very low inventory (a huge issue in the industry), testing technology, high reliability, etc. In short, they're an economic powerhouse that is worthy of considerable respect. Sure, they have had a few slipups, but so have other manufacturers. They, unlike others, have quickly and fairly resolved the problems, so what's the beef?

    Furthermore, not all of their systems require zero innovation, their laptops and servers are all significantly customized and require a fair amout of engineering efforts.
  • I put in a request for a new battery today (I have an I5000, and despite what Taco may say, it's been a great machine. Even survived a couple drops with no damage...), and it appears to work like this:

    They send me a new one.

    I send back my potentially pyrotechnic one.

    When they get my old one, they send me *another* one.

    So, I get two batteries out of this recall.
    I'm happy.

    C-X C-S
  • yea, same with me...

    since 2 months owning an dell inspiron 4000, no problems at all, battery lasts ~ 5 hours (at least that's what the linux kernel apm says), and lasts at least 2 hours under heavy load (watching DVD video). performance is good enough for UT or CS @ 800x600 under windows, or Q3A @ 640x480 under linux, the linux DRI for ATI chips is not very good yet... Also I know several people owning all kind of dell machines and never had any problems...

    What I think is: the people who don't have problems with any given kind of hardware/software/VCR/whatever are never known, but the people wh got the (few?) bad ones complain everywhere...

  • by TWR ( 16835 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:30PM (#248071)
    It wasn't an overheating problem; it was a defect in the design of the LiIon batteries Apple had purchased from Sony. Back in 1995, Apple was trying to be one of the first companies to use LiIon batteries in a laptop. Sony made the batteries for the 5300 and 190, and the rest became flaming history.

    After the week-long recall, Apple replaced the LiIon battery with a NiMH one and cut the price by $100.

    The PowerBook 5300 might be one of the worst computers Apple ever released. Everything that could go wrong with a design did go wrong. The original System software was so buggy, Apple posted an entire updated disk set for the 5300 up on its web site. The hinges broke, the power adapters would snap off, the casing around the screen would separate, the PC cards wouldn't eject was a mess. To top it off, performance sucked. No L2 cache meant that the CPU was constantly starved. Add in a 33MHz system bus, and you've got one heck of a problem computer.

    Before my 5300 developed problems, I had been a huge proponent of them, but after my 5300 broke many, many times (something like 8 times in 18 months), I was disgusted and called Apple, demanding that they do something about it. They did. I was sent, for free, a PowerBook 1400 in exchange for that defective 5300. Apple won me as a permanent fan that day.

    The 1400 is still working today. I've upgraded the CPU and hard drive, added Ethernet and Wireless cards, and it keeps on humming along well enough to prevent me from buying a new laptop to replace it (I did buy a new iMac, but portability is nice). That new iBook is looking awfully tempting, though.


  • A co-worker of mine accidently left his 5K on the roof of his car after a house-call. Consequently the laptop slid off the roof and bounced down the road. Some nice soul picked it up and returned it. The only thing that seemed to be wrong with it was the ribbon between the vidcard and lcd was torn. Next day Dell sent a tech. (And we live right next door to East BumFsck rural area) They fixed up the box and thing is still cranking along.. Now hows that for reliability and responsibility for Dell... Now Their Financial institution is a completely different story...
  • The machine smoked, and i don't know what would have happenned if i hadn't disconnected it....

    Dell's response? They sent a tech to us and replaced everything but the shell, not even a new laptop :( ... bastards..

  • I don't recall you beating your chest when this happened to a TEST MODEL that never left the lab of the subcontractor that made the batteries for Apple.

    The hypocracy is so glaring, i'm putting on my sunglasses.

    Dell should take as much shit as Apple had to take... for once in their lives.
  • Several months ago I made two large purchases. First, I bought a brand new 950MHz Athlon and 384 megs of RAM for my desktop machine, and then a Dell Inspiron 8000 laptop.

    When the laptop arrived, I immediately stopped using my desktop machine. I also stopped using my machine at work. I now do absolutely everything on this laptop because it is simply amazing and wonderful and good in every possible way. It does get fairly warm after extended use, but it's not what I'd call hot.

    So far, I'm extremely pleased with this machine. It's never failed me once.


  • Call me a nerd. Call me anal. But a rimshot is when the drum stick hits the rim of a drum typically the snare. What effect you're looking for is the double tom shots followed by a crash. Perhaps it could be represent with ba-dump chshhhh. I dunno. But people show that they have no idea what they're talking about when they start referring to that particular device as a rimshot. It's not.
  • I still have and use a DEC P166 laptop with no fan. It does get too warm to sit on your lap, especially when recharging the L-ion battery. But it's never caught on fire.
  • My laptop began to lock up once it warmed up slightly, about 2 weeks after I got it. Dell sent someone out with a new motherboard and cooling unit (fan, heat sink, etc.). The laptop continued to lock up while the tech was there. Dell shipped a new one out as soon as they could build it. No questions asked.

    The cool thing is that I told them where I would be when the laptop came in, at my parents' house, visiting. They shipped it to that address without any problems. I was working as a consultant at the time and the morning that the tech was supposed to come out and fix it, I had just changed workplaces. I gave him the new address, and he was there a couple of hours later.

    Definately the best service I've ever had. I build my own machines, but I buy/recommend Dell whenever a friend needs one, and when I need to buy them for businesses.
  • by cje ( 33931 )
    I've got an old Dell laptop (a 133MHz Latitude XPi) that has seen heavy use over its years, and it still runs as good today as it did when it came rolling off the assembly line. I basically use it for Internet browsing from the porch, the backyard, etc. (it's running Linux and equipped with a Lucent 802.11b PC card.) It works flawlessly; I have never had a problem with this machine .. nor have I had problems with any other Dell laptop I've used. To suggest that there is some sustained defect in these machines is sheer lunacy.

    As a result, I now order Dell exclusively when I need new machines. I recently placed on order for a Dimension 4100 on a late Saturday afternoon, and it arrived on my doorstep the following Friday morning. Four business days for processing, building, testing, and shipping a new desktop. Pretty damned impressive, if you ask me.

    Sure, there are plenty of companies in this business that deserve to be harassed and poked fun at, but Dell is not one of them.
  • Yes, Dell is not the only manufacturer suffering the wrath of this little problem. I saw the "Battery Recall Information" link on many other sites while I was laptop shopping over the past two weeks.

    I can't recall offhand the other companies, but it seems like Compaq and/or HP also were recalling batteries.

  • What I don't understand is, when Dell is just a me-too cloner bolting parts together and not innovating a thing, how can they not even be able to do that right and still stay in business?

    Actually, Dell doesn't just assemble parts, I was offered a design engineering job for the 4-processor and above systems. I didn't take the job, but I did find out that they actually do a lot of design work, some with the OEMs, some with custom parts.

    Oh, and I don't think this is the first time they've had laptops that catch fire. At their interview, I heard a vague reference to them cutting their first line of laptops because they had a tendancy to catch fire.

    As a side note, their corporate culture was VERY "we wanna be #1 at EVERYTHING." I've seen employees that love their work, but some of them were just a little to psychotic about beating Compaq and their other competitors. Kinda freaky.

  • I just agreed to keep a Dell Latitude here at work. I really wanted one of the Apple Titanium G4s but it's a long story. That laptop gets pretty dang toasty. I wonder if this will turn out to be like the Firestone tires. Independant reviewers find that more than just the few models the manufacturer lists are vulnerable.

    Now not to diminish Dell's fault or anything like that in this matter, but Apple had a similar issue a long while back. I believe the faulty batteries were in the PowerBook 5300 line that was introduced over 5.5 years ago. The problem was found quickly and the faulty type of batteries were replaced with another type. They didn't cause a fire but they could get hot enough under the right conditions to melt the battery casing or the case of the laptop. I've got a Sparc laptop at home (we call it the Sparcable) that weighs like 30lbs. Basically it's an IPC in a slightly smaller case with a battery and a screen attached. You cannot stand to have that thing on your laptop. Your legs will be nice and tanned after five minutes with that puppy.


  • Absolutely true... but don't you think it's strange (or at least, extremely unprofessional) for a news website that covers PC hardware not to disclose anywhere that is owned, even indirectly by VA Linux? And even if we cannot get that fig leaf of professional journalism, what about a simple disclosure on blatantly negative posts about VA Linux competitors? Something like "Dell laptops break all the time, but I should tell you that I am an employee of a direct Dell competitor"?

    People rag on MSNBC for their Microsoft coverage, but every single MSNBC article I've read on Microsoft properly discloses their part-ownership by MS --this despite that the name of the site is a compound of "Microsoft".
  • by costas ( 38724 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:44AM (#248084) Homepage
    ... I've owned and administered dozens of Dells. I've had few if any problems, and always, always Dell has provided excellent support --and more than half the time they did't need to: absolutely kicks ass.

    But interestingly enough, I am typing this on a broken Dell laptop --ironic isn't it? This machine is completely hosed, it will BSOD if you move it an inch (external keyboards rule).

    Anyway, it's my first truly broken Dell machine --ever. A corporate machine, purchased in Minneapolis for our company office in Atlanta. I am sitting right now in an apartment in Thessaloniki, Greece, 7,000 miles away from this machine's "home". I hang up the phone with US Dell Support an hour ago (collect). Dell has promised me that they will have a technician *on site* with a new motherboard *tomorrow morning*.

    I will be sure to post Dell's performance here tomorrow. In the mean time, CmdrT., you may want to go tell VA that they have a long way to go to compete with these guys...
  • I have nothing but positive things to say
    about Dell laptops. I have had this laptop
    for over a year now. It has performed flawlessly.
    I had to have the keyboard and mouse buttons
    replaced a while ago, because I plain wore them out.
    They came out 48 hours after my initial call and replaced them in 5
    minutes.. no questions asked. Yes the notebook does get a bit warm but
    I dont think it would ever catch fire. After a year+ the battery still lasts 3 1/2
    hours which is pretty good considering it originally lasted 4 hours. I am very
    pleased how dell is handeling this recall. The fact that I am going to
    get two batteries for the one I return is amazing. I will definatly buy all
    my future laptops from dell and recommend them to all my friends.

  • by MustardMan ( 52102 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:43AM (#248086)
    It always makes me laugh when I read one of these yahoo stories with glaring grammatical and/or spelling errors. Slashdot is one thing; it's a weblog that's SUPPOSED to be a buncha nerds arguing over crap and being opinionated. Yahoo (and Cnet, which is where the article actually came from), however, are attempting to be credible news sources.
    Sentences like "Dell agreed to replace the memory was replaced free of charge." do not help the crediblity of Yahoo and Cnet.

    I am not a grammar nazi. It's quite likely that this post contains grammatical errors. I, however, am not claiming to be a news source. Your mileage may vary. Removing this screw may void your warranty. MSRP based on standard package. Power windows, air, and seats extra. #include
  • So that's what's been happening with that over-unity excess energy thing -- batteries!
  • That's funny because most of the major threads on any Dell-Linux board are how nobody can seem to get the APM to work properly. I own an Inspiron 7500 - which I'm very happy with, and which has never hinted at catching on fire - but I can't for the life of me get the damn AMP stuff to work properly. Perhaps you could elaborate on what you did to get it to work. Oh, and I do know what a taniwha is: only a kiwi would right?
  • We bought two Inspiron 3800s last June. My battery wouldn't hold a charge for more than 20 mins. When I called the support centre the tech was amazed it hadn't exploded yet. It was releasing its charge at a VERY high rate.

    They replaced the battery and all has been well since (had to have to keyboard replaced after 9 months).

    Two weeks later I saw the notice on their website regarding a battery recall. When I checked the other notebook's battery, it was completely dead. The user never noticed as he kept it in the docking station 24x7.

  • I don't blame Dell regarding the battery recall (I was even a victim).

    What I don't like is their policy of using refurbished parts for replacements. My hard drive crashed a few years back on a Dell PC under full warranty. They quickly shipped me a 'new' drive. The refurbished sticker on it gave it away however. When I called to complain they said it was now their policy to use returned parts. I wasn't too happy having a 'fixed like new' drive as my storage medium. It took a strongly worded letter to our regional Dell office to get a factory new drive.

    As a side note, my co-workers secretly opened the box and replaced the drive with an even more decrepid one, wrapped in plastic wrap.

    I was incredulus! They got me good...
  • ... I think 180 degrees F is higher than the thermostat setting on my car's cooling system!
  • I'm on my second Inspiron right now, a 5000e, actually. First one was a 7500. I haven't had problems with any of them, except for the time I drove about 20 miles when I realized that I left my 5000e on top of my car. Thank god it was found the next day, and the only thing that broke on it was the "LCD flex cable", a ribbon cable that goes from the computer to the LCD. The LCD itself wasn't even cracked. Dell replaced the whole laptop for me, free of charge. I didn't, of course, tell them it fell off my car, but they replaced it anyway. I think for a laptop to survive a hit about 6' in the air, at 35MPH sort of says something... they really *don't* break all the time, only when you abuse them :)
  • I used to own a Vaio too, which I replaced with an Inspiron, because the DVD drive kept dying. Sony made me *mail* them my laptop EVERY TIME, they replaced it THREE TIMES, refused to replace the entire laptop, so I sold it to some guy in Russia and bought an Inspiron. Been happy since.
  • CmdrTaco's representation of Dell here is highly unfair and irrisponisible journalism. It is the first time I have heard anyone do anything but praise Dell for its customer service. They are rated #1 by Consumer reports in customer service and warrenty repair; whereas Sony, who /. seems to be able to do nothing but praise for their Viao, has an abysmal warrenty repair record, and doesn't even rate in the top 10 in either customer service or warrenty repair. I am currently working on a Dell, which has been one of the best machines I've ever owned of any type, which I had to buy as a replacement for my Sony Viao thats screen spontaneously fractured and Sony refused warrenty coverage on despite it clearly being covered according to their warrenty card. Let's have some fair journalism here, maybe do a little reserch before unfair article like that.
  • That's funny because most of the major threads on any Dell-Linux board are how nobody can seem to get the APM to work properly. I own an Inspiron 7500 - which I'm very happy with, and which has never hinted at catching on fire - but I can't for the life of me get the damn AMP stuff to work properly. Perhaps you could elaborate on what you did to get it to work.

    You know I don't think I did anything special - I may have turned off ACPI in the Bios - and I'm running a 2.2.'something early' kernel. There is an obvious Bios bug in save-to-disk which means that it doesn't restore the video context correctly - you can get around this by flipping to a virual terminal (ctrl-alt-f3 etc) and back to force X to do it - also it WILL lock up if you dock/undock it without suspending first.

    I write the KDE laptop support - my APM usage is really pretty simple - KDE polls /proc/apm for current battery state and exec's /usr/bin/apm to cause suspend/standby transitions. I almost never power off/reboot my laptop - it lives in the dock and I carry it around suspended (lasts a couple of days at least) so I get virtually instant-on - I only ever use save-to-disk when I get on/off an airplane.

    Oh, and I do know what a taniwha is: only a kiwi would right?

    Yup - that would be right ....

  • by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:26AM (#248096) Homepage Journal
    I love my 7000 laptop - keeps me toasty warm on those long nights :-) Seriosly though I've had no problems - it's one of the best Linux laptops I've used - has a great APM implementation (unlike the brand new IBM I have at work whicxh despite it's lovely display freezes whenever I try and suspend it)
  • Actually -- it wouldn't be hard to layer the batteries with plastic explosives that could detonate on demand using the power of the battery as the charge.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • I'm still trying to decide why everyone hates Dell laptops.

    I looked over dozens of laptops before I bought mine, and the Dell won out in EVERY catagory, without even a close second contender.

    Not even CLOSE.

    It was a bit more expensive, but IMHO it was worth the money.

    In the end, I only have three complains about my Insperon 5000e.

    The first of which is that it's very loud... the fan and the hard drive clicking... I can't stand it. It's louder than my deskdop. But it's a minor complaint.

    The scond complaint is that the built in speakers aren't that good. They're not as bad as some that I've heard, but they could be much better.

    The last complaint is that I have to keep a fire extinguisher next to my laptop.

    "Everything you know is wrong. (And stupid.)"
  • What if they chose batteries with fine specs, but Panasonic put out a run of them that was of lower quality? Would you still blame Dell then?


  • What do you mean, hard to find USB keyboards and mice? That's all I ever use, and i never really have to look...


  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @11:34AM (#248103)
    Can you imagine a Beowolf cluster of these Dell laptops? You can probably bbq an entire heard of cattle!
  • I didn't think that after the Apple adventure any other company would make laptops (or notebooks) that could catch on fire.

    Well, it was a first for Apple []... sadly of course.

  • by emufreak ( 83564 ) on Friday May 04, 2001 @07:38AM (#248108) Homepage
    I have a Dell laptop and it's only broken down once. The return time was extremely fast (a few days), and they didn't bill me for anything.

    I'm still trying to decide why everyone hates Dell laptops.
  • Bump this to number 2 on list of things to have on a desert island:

    1. Jamie Presley
    2. Dell Laptop - new with built in survivor kit!
    3. Fresh water

  • Speaking of such things, has anyone else noticed (or been expiriencing) that moderation points are being handed out like they're going out of style? I've be a moderator 4 times in the last three weeks, and so have many others. This happening to anyone else out there?

    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. []
  • by The Good Reverend ( 84440 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:20AM (#248113) Journal
    The US and British governments should get ahold of these for their spy agencies...they could set their laptops to self-destruct every time they're lost.
    The Good Reverend
    I'm different, just like everybody else. []
  • by smoondog ( 85133 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:30AM (#248114)
    I have a inspiron 7500 and this beast can get *very* hot. I have a habit sometimes of leaving it on after work and commuting while using it as an MP3 Player in my car stereo. When I get it home, sometimes it is so hot I cant touch any of the metal ports on the back and it is hard to type! Needless to say, I don't do that much anymore...


  • Likewise, I bought myself an inspiron 4000 six months ago, stuck in a debian install disk and haven't had a single problem with it since then.

    The only gripe I do have is that the price has dropped about $500 since then *grumble*.

    So yeah, keep your VA fud to yourself.
  • Dell didnt design the Inspirion 5000 or 5000e. Compal [] did. Both computers are rebadged Compal N30W [] series machines. I know because I'm typing this message on one :) (mine's sold as the MilwaukeePC [] Nomad 1500) It gets hot, and ironically enough when I need an extra battery I borrow one from my friend who has an Inspiron 5000 :) To the point: WILL MY INSPIRON CLONE CATCH FIRE? I dont know if we use the same battery vendors, but they're certainly compatible.
  • Yeah, I'm on my 3rd keyboard and LCD screen on my 1 year old Inspirion 3700. The current LCD (#3) is broken and only works intermittently, but I just hooked up an old monitor I had lying around and am using that when the LCD is illegible. The keyboard seems to have stayed fixed this time though so hooray for that.

    So, in short, don't but Dell laptops. It the like the computer version of Russian Roulette.

  • by cardhead ( 101762 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:40AM (#248123) Homepage
    Ob Ref to Jargon File: The problem seems to be with the implementation of the HCF instruction: tml []
  • I was thinking about picking out a laptop as my new firewall, I guess the Dell Inspiron 5000 is the one for me!

    haha! ok that didn't make any sence...
  • by Dman33 ( 110217 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:55AM (#248125)
    Dell is quite familiar with this sort of thing. Last time, it was the Latitude notebooks that were going up in flames. The details from the horse's mouth can found here [].
  • It's completely Dell's fault, as they were the ones who designed a system that can CATCH FIRE when used under normal circumstances, because they failed to do adequate research into the specs on the batteries.
    Bullshit. For this particular model, Dell is just sales and support. The laptops (5000e at least -- don't know about the plain 5000) were designed and manufactured by Compal. The batteries are manufactured (and presumably designed) by Panasonic. The external power supply is made by Delta, a well-known P.S. vendor. Everything about this machine is private-labeled by other OEMs for Dell.

    That said, Dell did offer a warranty and does seem to be making good on it.

  • by ReelOddeeo ( 115880 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:36AM (#248133)
    This is yet another example of how the Apple Macintosh has led the industry and everyone else follows.

    Apple had flaming Mac PowerBooks years ago. PC vendors are just now getting around to copying.
  • Dell has promised me that they will have a technician *on site* with a new motherboard *tomorrow morning*.

    I've worked tech support for a fairly large company. For three years we'd have dell in a couple times a month to fix laptops. Dell is very happy to come, to wherever you are, tommorow morning and replace a piece of hardware. If that piece of hardware doesn't fix the problem, they'll come out with Another piece of hardware (let's try the CPU now...), and if the problem persists, they'll be at your door the next day replacing something else (memory this time?), and if you still have a problem (my laptop freezes up) they'll come out and try again (maybe the second motherboard was faulty).

    In the end, if they do fix the problem, you're set. If it isn't hardware problem though, they waste so much time of your time trying to replace the hardware. The repair guys usually won't even look at the software to fix the problem.

    Of course, is an awsome support site. And dell shows up at your door ASAP with parts. And if you break the tab off your lid, they'll come out and replace it. And if you phone them and tell them the display is too dim, they'll come replace that too (do that before your warrenty expires.. they tend to fade with time) Dirty keyboard? Call dell for a new one.. keyboard sticks. Trackball/Pad sucks? They'll come fix that too.

    But, if you have a computer that "locks up randomly" you're pretty much scrwed. m$ won't support you because it is OEM and Dell will just keep replacing harware.

    Maybe running linux on dell is better than windows, unfortunatly the company i worked at wasn't ready for that...

  • I'd say they implemented the instruction perfectly.

  • Expect to see this feature pop up in many competitors' notebooks with the release of the Pentium 4 Mobile chipset in Q1 2002.


  • Once apon a time I was doing tech support for a department at a teaching hospital. The department head wanted all the doctors to have laptops (4 profs and 12 interns). I shopped around and Dell gave me the best price. Out of the 16 laptops I got, one went bad the first week. Dell shipped out a brand-new unit the same day. I put the broken laptop in the box the replacement came in, slapped on the pre-paid UPS sticker they sent, and shipped it back.
    I'm not the biggest fan of Dell as a whole, but they do make decent laptops and they have kick-ass customer service, at least in my experience.
  • Give them your Dell laptop.

    They leave it plugged in long enough and burn down their house or office. It's not your fault -- you were only being nice and giving them a free computer

  • The curious thing about the PB5300 connection is that Michael Dell was once quoted during Apple's dark days of '97-'98 that Apple should close down and liquidate its assets to pay off the shareholders. I think he may have been pushed into a corner by the press, but Mac folks like me are inclined to giggle up our sleeves and talk about "karma backlash". It's just not professional to shoot your mouth off like that.

  • Wow, you must have completely slept through the fire safety classes in 5th grade. Everyone knows it's SDR - Stop, Drop, and Roll, not just Drop and Roll.
  • by vsync64 ( 155958 ) <> on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:19AM (#248158) Homepage
    This reminds me of the time some site (I think []) found out that certain PowerBooks were being recalled because they could catch on fire. They took a picture of that Vietnamese monk immolating himself and added the Apple logo and the words "Think different.".

    Apple wasn't happy :-P


  • by Zara2 ( 160595 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:33AM (#248162)
    This is some seriously irresponsible journalism. 1 system caught on fire. That's it. Because of this one system overheating Dell is recalling hundreds of thousands of batteries. We should be applauding a company that is willing to do this without waffleing around like say firestone on thier tires.

    Furthermore it is not completly Dells Fault. These batteries were completely manufactured by another company. Come-on slashdot. Are we trying to do News For nerds or is this site going the way of other journalistic sites where they put up whatever will sell more papers/get more page views.

  • by PirateBek ( 164098 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:20AM (#248163)
    It was released earlier today for the 5000x series. Earlier Latitude and Inspirons had problems a few months ago.
  • I might as well join in the fun...

    Once again, an Apple innovation [] is stolen by a PC company six years later.

  • My Inspiron 4000 does get rather hot, hotter than any laptop I've used, but not fire-enducing. It only really heats up when I'm doing graphics-intensive stuff like 3D games (Quake III seems to take a lot out of it). The Mobility chipset is known to get warm, though.

    When I'm just doing it to do basic compilations, however, the laptop stays as cool as a frozen cucumber.

  • by 3seas ( 184403 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:31AM (#248174) Homepage Journal
    They should just rename it the MI-Laptop. Mission Impossible, this laptop will self-destruct in 10, 9, 8, ...
    3 S.E.A.S - Virtual Interaction Configuration (VIC) - VISION OF VISIONS!

  • You don't think one notebook PC BURSTING INTO FLAMES is any cause for alarm? It's completely Dell's fault, as they were the ones who designed a system that can CATCH FIRE when used under normal circumstances, because they failed to do adequate research into the specs on the batteries. A massive recall of the faulty batteries is the LEAST that should be expected of them.

    Furthermore, you shouldn't complain about bad journalism until you learn proper spelling and punctuation.
  • I had one of these (PB 5300 [], well known as the Exploding PowerBook [] due to Li-Ion batteries that caught fire) - mine didn't explode, but it did squeal like mad [] when it was charging the battery. I am now much happier with my G3!
  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @01:45PM (#248183) Journal
    I still have mine, but did get a G3. There were some awfully tempting trade-in programs a couple of years ago - for whatever reason I failed to participate. Oh well!
  • This post marks the beginning of what may come to be known as the greatest rush for 'Funny' mods seen in Slashdot's storied history.
  • The manufacturer of these batteries cannot be shipping them to solely Dell. I'd be interested in some of the other companies that use them. Anyone know of any?

  • ...when the same exact thing happened to Apple with the Powerbook 5300 (though very few if any computers had actually gotten into the hands of consumers in that instance), and the media and Apple/Mac-bashers were exaggerating the severity of it?

    Personally, I think Dell and its big-mouthed, "I think Apple should close down and return the shareholders' money" CEO are long overdue for a taste of overblown, bad publicity. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

    Ah, yes, Dell, so very proud of wresting the education sales crown from Apple, I just can't wait until the first schoolkid gets burned by one of their laptops and the hordes of lawyers descend.

    Also gotta love that they are continuing their stringent QC from a year or two ago when they shipped CD-ROM modules for their Latitudes that did not fit any Dell laptop that was in production at the time. That was a real fun time for me where I worked. What I don't understand is, when Dell is just a me-too cloner bolting parts together and not innovating a thing, how can they not even be able to do that right and still stay in business?

  • Or should that be Flaming Bait!?
  • Yeah, this *is* funny as hell, but just a few
    points in Apple's defence:
    1. It was generally an overheating problem
    (Mine used to get *incredibly* hot sometimes)
    2. Precisely 1 (one) machine caught fire, and,
    3. It was in Apple's posession at the time.

    Now back to the lousy 'really /hot/ laptop' jokes.... . . .
  • The problem with moderation isn't so much that things are modded up or down inappropriately but things are inappropriately unmoderated. Excessive upwards or downwards moderation is penalized in metamoderation. Many informative posts by Anonymous Cowards are left at 0. Many insightful posts that don't follow the party line are left at 1 or 0. Neither of these are captured by metamoderation.

    The bulk of the moderators use their moderation points to reinforce their views rather than reward good commentary. It's been that way for quite a while which is what allowed karma whores to operate. If you can figure out what to post to increase your chances of upwards moderation you'll get moderated up.

    I browse at -1, I no longer moderate though. I got tired of being hammered in metamoderation for doing what the moderation FAQ asked for: Reward good commentary, not views you sympathize with. Since I don't post often moderation put me in danger of ending up with negative karma.

  • by sonny317 ( 300865 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @11:25AM (#248209)
    To top this off, according to their site []:

    "Customers will receive one replacement battery for each battery identified as subject to recall. Upon return of a recalled battery, customers will receive an additional battery at no cost."

    Thats TWO brand spankin new batteries, one upon registering the defective one and one upon receipt of it... I just ordered an Inspiron 8000 two days ago, and service like this make me damn glad I went with Dell.
  • I use to work at Dell in the portable section as a senior tech and one of the hardest things we had to overcome was explained to the customer that these ARE NOT laptops. These are portable computers. With the advent of technology in the last three to four years it has become increasingly difficult for computer manufactures to develop "laptop computers." With the current processor speeds and other advanced requirements that people demand in a portable computer, its difficult to squeez all that power into a tiny compartment. One of the draw backs to that is that these systems put out A LOT of heat. If I recall correctly when Dell started shipping the Inspiron 3200 or 7000 (I think it was the 7000 not sure off the top of my head), they started including a warning letter describing to customers that this was infact not a Laptop and used pretty strong language warning against resting it on bare legs or cunductive materials. Think of it this way take the case off your desktop computer and hold your hand against the heat sink..... of course your not going to do it because you'd burn yourself. Well in a portable computer there is maybe 1/8-1/4 inch separating the outer casing from the processor. So if you run that thing all day and decide to rest it on your legs so you can turn arround and relax theres a good chance your gonna burn yourself. Now instead of putting it on skin say you place it on carpeting. Theres a damn good chance it might catch fire. Anyway thats all I have to say. Although I am glad I dumped all my stock in them.
  • Yup... 4 times in the last week and a half for me.

    I even went so far as to Ask Slashdot:

    * 2001-04-29 23:19:38 What's up with the moderating? (askslashdot,slashdot) (rejected)

    I guess we'll never know.

    Ryan T. Sammartino

  • by mech9t8 ( 310197 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:27AM (#248217)
    Read up on how the moderation system works... moderation points are given out randomly to any logged-in /. reader. (Except maybe those with negative karma.)

    So saying they're hypocrites is a bit silly, as its impossible to generalize. If you want to complain about anything, complain about how the /. news posters editorialize in their headlines.

    If you really want to see all the "SPORK!" messages, just change your setting to browse at -1 - you'll see everything that's been posted. Me, I'm glad the idiot comments get modded down and the intelligent ones get modded up (I browse at +3)... it makes /. the only message board on the internet that's actually worth reading...
    Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies.
  • Actually, this is a new story, but yes, YET ANOTHER Dell recall due to fire.

    Note, links are in text so nobody is Goatse paranoid this far up:

    C|Net's version of this story the day BEFORE yahoo ran it: l

    Oct-2000 Dell Fire Recall: l

    Oct-2000 Compaq fire recall l

  • by thunderbird46 ( 315436 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:18AM (#248222) Homepage Journal
    Hehe. The Ford Pinto of notebooks, eh?
  • The article I originally read on yahoo stated that Panasonic was the manufacturer of the batteries, so we can not necessarily blame Dell for this.

    Even so, not *everything* works correctly all the time. If this was the case, we wouldn't have this thing called innovation.

    w00t w00t raise da r00f!
  • I mean really, how many people do you think are actually going to take advantage of the recall to send their batteries back to Dell... and wait a few weeks to get a new one.

    That's like sending your gas tank back to your car manufacturer and waiting while they UPS you a new one =) well, kinda.

  • Remeber the old joke/debate/urban_ledgend about if automobiles had advanced as rapidly as computers? If it only took one laptop to cause a recall for dell, but 49 deaths to cause a tire recall from FORD...I would say that the forces at work (competiton, hackers, civil lawyers)seem to have a niche for finding "major" flaws in rather stable products, instead of "Exploding, Death-inducing, bone-breaking flaws" in mass market products get recongition only after regulations and lawsuits.
  • Um. If that were the case wouldn't they be exploding notebooks?

    And while on the subject... What the hell is a "laptop"? Shouldn't that just be a "lap"? Surely there is no "lap bottom" or "lap side"? Please call it a "lap" or "notebook" and let's phase out this redundant shit once and for all.

    "Fuck your mama."

  • by cobol4me ( 444373 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:29AM (#248235)
    Techsupp: 'help ya? Me: My laptop is on fire! Techsupp: Sir? Me: Fire! Fire! The computer just burst into flames! Techsupp: Did you try to reboot Windows? Me: What? I said it's on fire! Techsupp: OK, you need to use Quick Restore then call us ba....[fire engine sirens in the background/screams of pain] Sir! Drop and roll! Drop the laptop and roll on it! Then use the Quick Restore CD!
  • by highway_girl ( 447310 ) on Thursday May 03, 2001 @09:26AM (#248236)
    Quote from the home page of;
    "Notebooks & Desktops
    Harnessing the power of emerging technology for blazing performance, serious multitasking & high productivity."

    ...they're just living up to their claims of *blazing* performance!

Don't tell me how hard you work. Tell me how much you get done. -- James J. Ling