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Sony Hardware

Sony Recalls 73,000 Vaio Laptops Due To Burn Worry 115

alphadogg writes "Sony is recalling 73,000 Vaio TZ laptops because of a possible manufacturing defect that may cause them to overheat, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said Thursday. The recall relates to a problem with wiring near the computer's hinge, which could short-circuit and overheat in certain circumstances, perhaps burning the user. One person has suffered a minor burn as a result of the latest defect, and Sony has received 15 other reports of overheating computers, according to the Commission."
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Sony Recalls 73,000 Vaio Laptops Due To Burn Worry

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  • Sony (Score:3, Funny)

    by antivoid ( 751399 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:44AM (#24874679) Homepage
    Sony having a defective laptop? I've never heard of that happen. Sony products are perfect.
    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <<akaimbatman> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:52AM (#24874833) Homepage Journal

      You joke, but I used to purchase Sony products because they represented quality. Need a top of the line Palm Pilot, CRT, television, laptop, CD player, etc.? Sony was the place to go.

      These days Sony's quality IS the joke. :-(

      • Re:Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Linker3000 ( 626634 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:04AM (#24875035) Journal

        ...possibly true for hifi, TVs etc., but having once worked for a Sony laptop repair shop I can say that the evidence suggests they have never really perfected the art of laptop design - bits fall off, break, or the system boards/screens develop early life failures.

        We used to repair Sony, Toshiba, Dell, Compaq, IBM etc. and he Sonys were the worse for 'it just happened' faults as opposed to 'I dropped it' or disk failures etc.

        • Older Sony laptops were made with high quality but the newer ones are just poor from any way you want to look at it...

          As an example I got a PCG-XG19 back in early 2000. It has been dropped, kicked, dragged around the country, and endured 2 OS upgrades in its useful lifetime and still works when I start it up. Over this time the only things that have gone wrong with it are the hard drive died of old age and had to be replaced, the battery had to be replaced, and it only supports 250 MG of RAM.

          In 2005 I p
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          My major complaint with SONY computers has always been the driver support. If you have to reload them without the OEM discs for any reason you're basically screwed. The machines are full of odd components that only SONY has drivers for and their website is virtually useless.

          We've had a few VAIOs come through the shop and they're always a pain to work on.

        • by TheLink ( 130905 )
          It would be strange if people started sending lots of laptops to your Sony repair shop that had nothing wrong with them.
          • Nope - you've missed the point: we serviced pretty much all the main brands as a manufacturer-approved centre (fully trained staff, mandatory attendance at training classes, inventoried tooling & spares stock etc.) and the volume of Sonys that came in for repairs due to 'mystery' or 'non-user induced' faults (eg: not because the user dropped the laptop) was significantly higher than other brands.

            • by kalami ( 1198775 )
              In my experience in IT and repairs in general, 90% of the issues are user induced; they just don't tell you what they did.
              • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

                In my experience in IT and repairs in general, 90% of the issues are user induced; they just don't tell you what they did.

                "I didn't do anything" must be the most heard sentence by mothers of 6 year olds and by IT staff people.

        • by smoker2 ( 750216 )
          In my experience of a Sony Vaio, they run just fine. I bought one in 2001 and it's still running after being lugged around the world, living in a truck, being dropped etc. The only bit that doesn't work is the pc card slot, as I dropped it while I had a wifi adapter in it. The socket was ripped right off the mainboard but the laptop runs fine.
          Amusingly, it has an AMD 1GHz speedstep cpu which was quite quick at the time, and now the speeds are coming back my way. I wouldn't sell it for anything - its been a
        • What laptops were the good ones? I'd love to get your input!
          • Things have certainly changed over time and I do not think manufacturers are as consistent (quality-wise) now between models as they used to be; I think it's the continuous rush to bring out new designs to compete with, or better, the opposition - but to generalise:

            Sony: Do not sneeze near them. I stay clear of them. My wife was captivated by a VGN-2S a few years back due to its lightweight design, and despite my warnings she bought it. It was back for repair within the month with a failed screen AND mother

          • I'd like to hear that too, good to know if you are in the used and cheap laptop market. Computers I can't tell you, guns I can, used to fix them. For shotguns, cheap to buy and very good quality, you can't go much wrong with a remington 870, tough as nails.

        • by slmdmd ( 769525 )
          I have a vaio fj290p at home and it too over heats after an hour or two, the hp (company laptop) at office is left on by me for 5 days at a stretch and it is steady at the same temp. Even though there are factors like more AC in office etc, still I can't think of leaving the sony laptop on over night. I do leave the HP online(no sleep) to run the over night reporting scripts which are under development. For me, the sony laptop sucks big time, it has a soft bios in windows and the oem xp won't run in vmwa
        • by mgblst ( 80109 )

          I bet the IBMs were the best, that has been my experience on repairing laptops. IBM likes to make parts interchangeable between as many models as possible.

      • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )
        I thought that Palm made Palm Pilots. My bad.
        • Re:Sony (Score:5, Informative)

          by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:28AM (#24875389)

          Sony made PDA's that ran the PalmOS (the Clié series). They were generally regarded as a very desirable/quality version of a Palm.

          Since they ran the same OS/software, it's obvcious that the GP was referring to "Palm" the platform and not the brand of device.

          • They still are, the TH55 is only now showing its age, purely down to an outdated web browser. It's still the king of the Palm OS devices.

            • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

              They still are, the TH55 is only now showing its age, purely down to an outdated web browser. It's still the king of the Palm OS devices.

              Are you saying the current Palm gizmos don't have an outdated web browser ? :)

              I wish I could do something useful on the Web with my T|X (theoretically a nice device apart from that). But then Palm is pretty much dead nowadays. I still have my former Pilot / Palm devices though (with only the original Pilot 5000/Pro with a dead digitizer). Strange how that company was left to rot...

              • But then Palm is pretty much dead nowadays. I still have my former Pilot / Palm devices though (with only the original Pilot 5000/Pro with a dead digitizer). Strange how that company was left to rot...

                I've still got one hanging around somewhere too. A Palm Zire (the white model - can't remember the number). I used it for a while but I've personally just never really been bit by the PDA bug. I know lots of people love them and more power to them, but I had too much trouble just remembering to take the thing with me.

        • Well then I thought US Robotics made Palm Pilots and Pilots ! Cliés rocked.
          • by Ctrl-Z ( 28806 )
            Yes, Palm was a subsidiary of U.S. Robotics at the time. They still made the Pilot though.
      • There should be a mod for "Sad but true".
      • I used to purchase Sony products because they represented quality. Need a top of the line Palm Pilot, CRT, television, laptop, CD player, etc.? Sony was the place to go.

        Tell me about it. I have a Sony tuner that's nearly 20 years old (I bought it just out of college). It even has a button for DAT input. It's still going strong.

      • My company brought two of this two TZ ultraportable laptops... Sadly I have to say: One burned into the sun (my boss one): he brought apple now... The other has serious overheating problem... I have one SZ61WN and I really like this one... Is great and works perfectly with linux.
      • Their TVs are still among the best. I have an XBR series HD TV that is amazing, and a 15 yr old conventional TV that has never needed service.
        Our experience with their computers, both desktop and laptop, has been uneven at best.
      • Maybe they've started hiring Caucasians [youtube.com]?
    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Funny)

      by PawNtheSandman ( 1238854 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:59AM (#24874935)

      Sony and IBM are the only electronics I will buy because of their superior quality and affordability.

      • by zucki ( 1355947 )
        Hehe pretty funny, I see what you did there.
      • I'll be the first to admit that IBM is expensive, but I haven't had any problems with their quality. Of course most of my experience with them is in mid-range servers and not consumer electronics, but I do have a keyboard of theirs that is quite a few years old....I just like the sounds it makes...
        • Three IBM machines, two AS400, one I5, and none of them worked when delivered. IBM was very good about getting parts delivered, and someone to install said parts, and once up and running they have been very reliable, but it is disconcerting to pay that much for a machine and it does not work when delivered.
          • we just got a new iseries in feb and it has been running without a hitch. what is nice is that they really do take care of their customers. So if you do have a DOA (3 in your case which is probably a statistical anomaly) they make sure you are up and running very quickly, and at no additional cost (as long as you are on maintenance of course).
      • Nobody has ever been fired for buying IBM.
    • Re:Sony (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oldspewey ( 1303305 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:18AM (#24875227)
      Sony inhabits a small but select club for me - companies who's products I outright boycott. Some companies have made it on my list due to shitty products, some due to shitty customer service, some due to shitty business/social/environmental policies, and some due to various combinations of all the above.

      I think that I may hate Creative just slightly more than Sony due to profound psychological trauma I suffered as a result of their hardware and drivers ... but Sony ranks right up there.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      73000 laptops? How about 440000? That's what BBC [bbc.co.uk] claims.

  • manufacturing? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:45AM (#24874715) Homepage

    The recall relates to a problem with wiring near the computer's hinge, which could short-circuit and overheat in certain circumstances, perhaps burning the user.

    That sounds like a design defect, not a manufacturing defect.

    • Re:manufacturing? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rayeth ( 1335201 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:50AM (#24874793)
      Manufacturing doesn't just put wires wherever. This is clearly a case of Sony calling it a manufacturing defect to cover their legal asses in case of Class Action lawsuits.

      They can then allege that this was only in X thousand laptops because they were built wrong, not because they were designed to be wrong.
      • If this were the case, couldn't they just claim the machine is NOT a laptop, but a notebook (ala Apple MacBooks) and easily avoid lawsuit? C'mon, this is Sony... what manufacturing run doesn't have defects?

    • The manufacturers followed the defective design, so it's their fault. At least, that's what the lawyers tell me.

    • That sounds like a design defect, not a manufacturing defect.

      That doesn't sound like a design defect; it sounds like they're copying Apple's laptop design.

      (in case the joke is too obscure: Apple's laptops are designed in such a way that they get ridiculously hot.)

    • by linzeal ( 197905 )
      Its a problem with product cycles from design to manufacture to landfill becoming shorter and shorter. I have a 3 year old cell phone designed for kids and the elderly [engadgetmobile.com] that has been partially submerged in dishwater and salt water, dropped out of a moving vehicle and generally banged around more than any personal electronics I own and I fucking love it. Yeah, the screen is tiny but I have never surfed on a cell phone for the internet and pry never will; because I have never found a reason to. Jobs have tr
      • by nigelo ( 30096 )

        Did you read the review that you linked to?

        My wife and sons have this phone, and the call quality is *awful*, as the article says, multiple times.

        The phone better be unbreakable, because it's going to be thrown against the wall in frustration more than a few times.

        It's a phone - come on, make it possible to conduct a conversation, at least...

        Tsk.

        • by linzeal ( 197905 )
          Turn down the headset and speakerphone volume, they are set ridiculously high for the ones locked to Verizon.
    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      The word you're looking for is *engineering* defect.

      As it is, most laptops run the cable for the LCD thru the hinge (in the case of tablet notebooks, it's the center hinge, on hp dv9000 series laptops, it's the left hinge) and that in itself is just asking for problems. However, there's really no other place to hide the cable from sight and from being exposed, so you have to risk putting it near the hinge.

  • Inverter (Score:4, Funny)

    by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:46AM (#24874723) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    The overheating could be caused by misplaced wiring near the hinge, or if a screw in the hinge falls out and short-circuits the wires.

    Nice, that's usually where the inverter [laptoprepair101.com] is. The only better way to make a true Sony-style exploder would be a short across the battery terminals!

  • by antivoid ( 751399 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:46AM (#24874727) Homepage
    I had a sony walkman once, it blew up in my pants. did wonders for my sexlife.
  • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:48AM (#24874763) Journal

    Apparently, the famous CD rootkit wasn't good enough at preventing piracy. Well, this new tool in the fight will burn your fingers clean off. I'd like to see you try to pirate a CD when you can't even pick it up.

  • Sony is recalling the laptops, but my exercise instructor told me to "feel the burn"!

  • by FooAtWFU ( 699187 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @10:54AM (#24874867) Homepage
    you're supposed to visit http://esupport.sony.com/fixmypc [sony.com]. Unfortunately, that just takes you to a page which says 'This is a test'. That's Sony quality for ya!

    guess i'll need to wait until I can call their hotline or something. (1-888-526-6219 if you're that interested...)

    • Takes me to a page that says:

      Sony VAIO® VGN-TZ Notebook - Rework

      This Web site is only for VAIO VGN-TZ computer customers that live in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and Brazil.

      To get started, please select the country in which you currently reside: ...and so on. Following the US link takes me to a page that asks me for the serial number and other particulars of my defect laptop (which I couldn't test, seeing as I don't have one). Seems to be working fine to me.

  • Well, at least... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:04AM (#24875037) Journal

    At least they weren't shipped with rootkits! Well, I THINK they weren't but how could you know?

    I know that after being rooted by a music CD, I'll never have a Sony product burn me (except maybe my TV, which I bought before being burned by XCP). Once bitten, twice shy. Other corporations should take heed.

    • Yeah, their head units and speakers are kinda crappy too. My friends brag about the "Sony Quality (TM)" that they get and the superior sound quality. That is, until the faceplate breaks off from being removed too much or the head's amp blows out creating a small fire in their dash (true story). And the speakers? He's on his third set in two years in his car, and his home speakers didn't last a month.

      *shakes head*
      • by sm62704 ( 957197 )

        What's sad is, just a couple of decades ago their stuff was top quality. Back when the walkman first came out you couldn't hurt the damned things.

        • Oh I know. I still have an old CD walkman from the early 90's and it works like it's brand new. Sad indeed that a manufacturer can let their quality standards fall that much.

          It's kinda like my friend and his Mercedes. He's got a '92 300D or something like that which has over 300K miles on it and no major problems, but his '05 or so CLK500 has been in for sensors and engine problems multiple times. He's even been through a transmission.
    • At least they weren't shipped with rootkits! Well, I THINK they weren't but how could you know?

      I know that after being rooted by a music CD, I'll never have a Sony product burn me (except maybe my TV, which I bought before being burned by XCP). Once bitten, twice shy. Other corporations should take heed.

      I was thinking the exact same thing - given Sony's track record regarding PC software, why on earth would anyone buy a computer from them? For all we know there could be a custom BIOS that triggers the injection of rootkit code into your OS.

  • I have a question... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ...as a mathematician with my head in the clouds, I want to ask hardware types: why do things have such horrible failure modes?

    Why doesn't a laptop battery do something intelligent way before it explodes, for example? I should expect to be able to short circuit externally or in several places internally and the worst case behaviour be that it blows a fuse, permanently disabling the battery. Why do the vents that are supposed to prevent explosion seem not to trigger until enough pressure has built up that so

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) *

      Why doesn't a laptop battery do something intelligent way before it explodes, for example? I should expect to be able to short circuit externally or in several places internally and the worst case behaviour be that it blows a fuse, permanently disabling the battery. Why do the vents that are supposed to prevent explosion seem not to trigger until enough pressure has built up that someone directly above/below one is likely to get injured?

      Well, there are multiple levels of protection in lithium ion battery

    • ...as a mathematician with my head in the clouds, I want to ask hardware types: why do things have such horrible failure modes?

      2 words..profit maximization

      Why doesn't a laptop battery do something intelligent way before it explodes,...

      Well, that would cost extra money to implement, which goes against the point mentioned above

      Is it really that the few cents it costs to engineer these obvious safety and reliability features aren't worth considering?

      At even a few cents per unit to implement these, it'd add up to a considerable amount of money. Enough to make implementing said safety features not attractive to Sony...until enough bad press comes as a result of their cutting corners, that is.

    • by evanbd ( 210358 )

      Power supplies are actually complicated to engineer -- adding monitoring to every supply line would increase the component count, rather than simply add software complexity. That means it costs more per unit, as well as more design effort. So, unfortunately, you're unlikely to see it without a clear demand.

      Many modern batteries are designed to fail in some safe manner; at least some of the battery problems have been due to manufacturers substituting cheaper materials than specified, which results in the s

    • Li-Ion batteries work by placing anodes and cathodes next to each other, causing lithium ions to go to and from the anodes/cathodes. The resulting electro-chemical reaction "makes" electricity (this is over simplified!) When one of these things drops, is punctured or in any other way causes the two components to come into further contact with one another and then is "charged" the resulting energy can cause "expansion," excessive heat, fire and can even explode as we've seen previously.

      This is a very simple

  • Not surprised (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CSMatt ( 1175471 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:09AM (#24875099)

    The recall relates to a problem with wiring near the computer's hinge, which could short-circuit and overheat in certain circumstances, perhaps burning the user.

    Users generally get burned for buying Sony anyway.

  • The heat generated by current laptops, combine with the battery, is really making these quite uncomfortable. The new MacBook Pro is gets much hotter than the previous Powerbooks. If I have it plugged in and doing serious work, I will sometimes take the battery out. It should not make a difference if it is not charging, maybe it just allows more air to flow.

    I can't imagine why we are designing hotter laptops. Heat is waste energy, which requires a bigger battery, which generates more heat...

    • by mea37 ( 1201159 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:47AM (#24875703)

      I think the recall relates to something more than the general trend toward laptops running hotter...

      But to your point, a few things.

      First, heat as waste energy... well, sort of. All of the energy that goes into your computer comes back out. (Remember, using energy doesn't mean the energy is gone.) If we exclude the energy that's deliberately converted to light for the monitor, a good chunk of that is ultimately coming out as heat regardless of what happens to it in the mean time.

      Yes, a more energy-efficient processor (and other hardware) will run cooler, all else being equal. However, dividing the energy that goes into a computer into "useful" vs. "waste heat" isn't really accurate.

      But my real point is, it's not as if a laptop today is equivalent to a laptop 5 years ago except less energy-efficient. Newer laptops are smaller, which makes it harder to dissipate the heat generated. Also, processors are faster (and by other measures "more powerful"). Transistor counts go up, so does power consumed... and again, "consumed" mostly means "dissipated as heat".

      I wouldn't say that we're "designing hotter laptops"; I'd say we're designing smaller/faster laptops and increases in efficiency haven't kept up wtih the level of cool running we'd become acustomed to.

    • Sell them to Eskimos.
      During the colder months, sell them to Canadians, Islanders, Norwegians, Russians... etc...

      Silly Sony... If they had only managed to drag on the issue for a few more months...

  • by pembo13 ( 770295 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:18AM (#24875229) Homepage
    What ever happened to that? My dad has a Sony tv that he got around when I was born. When I hit about 12 he got a new Sony tv. And it died, and the old one is still ticking.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I think their quality started becoming a joke about the time they put out their XPlode line of car audio equipment. Sony used to produce car audio systems that were really good back in the day, I think this was a company wide shift in focus. Increase sales volume on lower cost equipment and they cut their quality in the process.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Several things.

      1. Production was outsourced to China-- to remain cost-competitive, and especially under Sony's now US-executive leadership, most of their products are now made in China. While China's quality has improved tremendously, it was pretty bad at first, and still isn't really up to par with Japan.

      2. OEM components-- unlike the days of the Walkman where Sony could've made all the ICs themselves, today if you hope to build a computer, MP3 player, etc at anywhere near an affordable price you have t

    • by Mex ( 191941 )

      Well, basically Sony's decline begins when they buy an Entertainment arm in the 80's. There's a lot of info on Wikipedia about it.

      They had probably the best reputation of any Japanese electronics company back then.

  • More than 73,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spad ( 470073 ) <slashdot@NOsPaM.spad.co.uk> on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:22AM (#24875269) Homepage

    Up to 440,000 [bbc.co.uk] laptops now.

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @11:22AM (#24875275)

    ...take off all those illegal Sony Music MP3s you've downloaded before you return it.

    • Perhaps the real reason for the recall is that the pre-installed Sony rootkit isn't working.
    • I either pull the HD out or image it and then wipe it before I send in any PC or Laptop. Nobody has complained to me about it yet....
  • ... they do not read the "do not use the self-destruct button until you REALLY need to do" note on manual, much less the "on enabled, throw away the device on ten seconds" note
  • So, does Sony RMA give "Advanced Replacements" of equivalent unaffected models or loaners to users of the Recalled units , Ya Right...
    So what does one do when their laptop is recalled and they need one to work?
    If someone purchased the on-site next-day service plan, do they still honor that because the product line is defective?
    440,000+ unhappy users is a hell of a way to have "Sony Style"...

    Not that Dell is the pinnacle of notebook perfection, but my older Dell laptop has been so reliable for me and
  • 73,000 or 440,000? (Score:3, Informative)

    by PalmKiller ( 174161 ) on Thursday September 04, 2008 @12:50PM (#24876823) Homepage
    Here they say its more like 440,000 recalled. I expect a little variation, but this is a major difference...makes me wonder if one is talking about worldwide, and one local. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7598344.stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • We should give them some credit. Dell ignored their issue until Jarvis really hammered them. I'd seen a least a dozen incidents of dell's starting fires. At least Sony admitted the problem and initiated the recall before their customers started having real issues.
  • I own a Vaio VGN-TZ17TN which started smelling like smoke a couple months ago. When I turned it off I found a melted area on the bottom of the case near the hinge. It looked to me like a power regulator's heat sink had overheated in a big way, but when I got the machine back the paperwork said they had replaced lots of wiring harnesses. I can't help but wonder if I experienced the issue that the recall is for.

    That said, I can't find a real press release about exactly which models are affected. Mine is a Tai

  • My employer has a contract to do these fixes. What has aparrently happened is some assembly workers have routed the DC cables for the power jack (which is in the left hinge) on top of the hinge rather than alongside and slightly underneath. This can potentially fray the wire and cause a short. Once we determine that the system is affected, we are to redo the wiring to that side of the hinge replace the webcam (if necessary) add an insulator to the hinge and put a rubber cap on one of the screws. Doesn't

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