Sony Warns Of Fire Risk From Vaio Fit Laptops

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Sony warns of a serious risk of fire from its new Vaio hybrid laptop launched in February

Troubled electronic giant Sony faces an ignominious end to its laptop venture after it warned of a serious fire risk with its recently launched VAIO Fit 11A hybrid laptop.

The VAIO Fit 11A hybrid laptop was only launched in February, but according to the Wall Street Journal, Sony is warning customers of an overheating fault with the battery, made by Panasonic, which could cause it to catch fire.

Battery Problem

Sony is reportedly warning nearly 26,000 people who have purchased the device to stop using it immediately. It apparently received three reports of batteries overheating causing partial burns to Vaio computers. The first incident was in Japan on 19 March, followed by similar incidents on 30 March in Hong Kong and 8 April in China. Sony stopped selling the machine at the beginning of this month.

computer fire repair danger © melis ShutterstockThe VAIO Fit 11A is a smaller version of its larger Fit convertible laptops, which are described as a ‘multi-flip PC’ that can act as a laptop, tablet, or simply a screen, in a similar fashion to Lenovo’s Yoga hybrid device.

The model is said to be the final version of the Vaio series, after Sony confirmed plans in February to sell its poorly performing Vaio PC division to a Japanese investment fund. As part of the drive to return to profitability, the company will also split the loss-making TV division into a separate unit, and renew its focus on mobile devices.

The fire risk of its latest laptop model marks a sad end to Sony’s Vaio brand, which has been around since 1996. The company is said to be planning an official recall.

Recalls of this nature are nothing new in the laptop sphere. Indeed, Sony issued a recall in mid 2010 for more than 500,000 Vaio laptops because of a defect related to the laptops’ ability to regulate its own temperature. In 2009, the manufacturer recalled Vaio AC adapters due to a potential shock risk.

And in 2008, five models in Sony’s Vaio TZ Series were recalled due to an overheating issue from a wiring problem. In 2006 Sony recalled the battery packs used in some Vaio notebooks, again citing overheating as a problem.

Laptop Impalement

Serious injuries caused by laptop battery fires tend to be very rare events, although in 2010, one user blamed her company’s laptop for causing a fire at her thatched cottage that resulted in more than £350,000 damages.

But perhaps the most serious injury from a laptop was an incident back in 2011, when a British man in New Zealand suffered a freak injury caused by his laptop computer.

According to the New Zealand Herald newspaper, 52 year old William Warner suffered a horrendous hand injury after the DVD drive of his Toshiba laptop fired out a piece of metal which impaled his palm.

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