Sony recalls Vaio laptops over fire risk

Warns of malfunctioning battery


Sony Vaio Fit 11A

Owners of Sony Vaio Fit 11A laptops are being urged to check the serial number after reports of the machines catching fire.

The company says that problems with the non-removable battery - supplied by a third party, it hastens to add - could lead to the PCs overheating and burning. Affected models were sold in February this year, and there have been three reported incidents so far, in China, Hong Kong and Japan.

The Fit 11A is a hybrid laptop-tablet device launched by Sony in February. The company's believed to have so far shipped over 25,000 of the PCs worldwide, with 7,000 in Europe, though it's not known how many were sold in the UK. It has now halted sales.

In a warning on its website, it asks users to input their serial and model numbers to find out if their machine is affected. If it is, says Sony, customers should stop using it immediately, and the company will repair or replace it. Unfortunately, though, this could take weeks, leaving users without a machine in the meantime.

The lithium-ion battery pack was manufactured by Panasonic, which tells the Wall Street Journal that its batteries are customised for every client, and that no others have had any problems.

Sony is no stranger to overheating laptops - although, to be fair, neither are most manufacturers. In 2006, it launched a global recall for several million lithium-ion batteries, with a smaller recall of Vaio models in 2010.

But lithium-ion batteries - widely used in consumer electronics because of their high energy density - are notoriously prone to overheating, and in some cases, have even exploded. Indeed, it's even been suggested that the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 could have been caused by a consignment of lithium-ion batteries in the hold.

The latest laptop recall should at least be the last one Sony has to face. In February, the company announced plans to sell off the Vaio division to private equity firm Japan Industrial Partners in order to concentrate on smartphones and tablets.