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Hewlett-Packard has recalled around 135,000 HP and Compaq laptop battery packs after reports claimed they were prone to overheating and catching fire.

The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced a voluntary recall by Hewlett-Packard of a range of HP Pavilion and HP/Compaq Presario and Evo laptop battery packs. The problem is occurring in the battery packs where an internal short can cause the battery cells to overheat and melt or burn the plastic casing, posing a fire hazard.

The lithium ion rechargeable batteries have been sold around the world in national and regional computer and electronics stores, online stores - www.hp.com and www.hpshopping.com - between March 2004 and May 2005. The recalled packs bear a barcode label starting with GC, IA, L0, or L1. Eighty-five thousand of the 135,000 faulty battery packs were sold in the US.

HP has so far received 16 reports of the batteries overheating, including four in the US. While no injuries have been reported yet, four cases of minor property damage were reported.

The CPSC has advised consumers to stop using the recalled batteries immediately and contact HP to arrange for a free replacement battery. HP has created a dedicated website to handle queries and reports about the faulty battery packs at www.hp.com/support/BatteryReplacement. After removing the offending battery from their laptops, the CPSC advised users to plug in the AC adapter to power their computer until a replacement battery is sent to them.

Overheating of laptop power adapters and battery packs is not an uncommon issue. At the beginning of September IBM recalled approximately 500,000 power adapters for its ThinkPad i, 390 and 240 series of notebooks due to a threat of melting plastic and in some cases the threat of fire. Meanwhile, a number of years ago Compaq had to recall 1.4 million laptop AC power adapters due to overheating reports.

This is not the first major product recall by HP; last year the Palo Alto company recalled 900,000 laptops because of a design flaw that could cause system lockups, blue screens or memory corruption.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

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