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Letters Creative Labs got in a bit of hot water recently over an advert showing a woman using a laptop, while immersed in, um, a bit of hot water.

Having had their wrist firmly slapped by the advertising standards chaps, the spin-meisters at Creative Labs went into damage limitation mode.

Unfortunately, their explanation for the advert: that the laptop was safe to use in a bath when it was only running on battery power because of the low voltage, was equally shocking.

Several of you lovely readers wrote in to say why:

"The use of laptops in the bath was not dangerous because they were battery-powered, low-voltage devices. And even if mains electricity was used, the voltage would be stepped down to battery-levels, Creative said."

What a bunch of morons.

It's not the voltage that kills you, it's the amps. Low voltage is USUALLY safe because it does not have enough oomph to jump from a dry wire to dry skin. But soaking in water changes that. 10 volts from a laptop can easily kill you dead in that situation.

That is not even mentioning many laptops have internal transformers, so the mains goes right into the laptop anyway.

And the backlit display runs at about 400 volts.

And a stun gun is a "battery powered" device that can kill you.

I can not believe Creative is claiming that dropping a plugged-in laptop into someone’s bathwater is not dangerous.

It's a reckless ad and they should say they are sorry for the lapse of common sense and not try and spin it.

I dare them to jump into a bathtub with a live laptop soaking in it.

Actually, I don't because they do not deserve to die over this mistake. But they do deserve to be given a ton of bad press.

Ian Smith

Always happy to oblige on that front, Ian. So here are a few more:

It's natural selection. If anyone anywhere anytime wishes to use electric items in the tub let 'em. Helps clean the gene pool for the rest of us.

On a similar note, I bet Flymo cancels their Surf-n-Turf ads. Ian

To clarify, that was a different Ian.

Hi Tim,

I have just read with interest your article on The Register, about the Creative "laptop-in-the-bath" ad.

Of most interest to me was this paragraph:

"The use of laptops in the bath was not dangerous because they were battery-powered, low-voltage devices. And even if mains electricity was used, the voltage would be stepped down to battery-levels, Creative said."

Creative obviously lack any real understanding of how laptops work! This statement would be true if, and only if, the laptop's internal display panel was not running. Unfortunately, if the display is running, then (for most laptops), the backlight is running at hundreds, and in some cases thousands of volts! I have recently seen a laptop display panel backlight rated at 2,500 Volts - certainly more than enough for concern!

Over and above that fact, it is also important to note that (in general) voltage does not kill - it burns, but does not kill - it is the CURRENT which kills. In the case of laptops, most consume a minimum of 3 Amps, and some as much as 8 or 9 Amps. This is definately enough to kill a person. (If I recall correctly, it takes only 100 micro-amps to stop, or severely disrupt the human heart.)

Creative should be ashamed of themselves for considering the advert in the first place, and they should be even more ashamed at their distinct lack of knowledge about the hardware, and basic physics!

Mike

And one from a reader who clearly resides at the thrill seeking end of the geek spectrum:

Subject: Laptop in the bath

Bah, thats why WiFi was invented! Its natural progression!

Gareth

On a side note, we hear today from the Advertising Standards Authority that 2003 saw a record number of complaints from the public about the quality and content of adverts. Perhaps the Creative case illustrates why that is so... ®

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