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Gateway recalls 14,000 batteries

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When laptop batteries aren't bursting into white-hot flames, incinerating loved-ones, treasured possessions and airline luggage compartments in a ball of fiery plasma — they're right useful products.

Shame about the little catch.

Today, Gateway is issuing a voluntary recall of about 14,000 lithium-ion battery packs to prevent this unfortunate hazard scalding notebook vendors and customers alike. The move is a response to four customers who reported their notebooks overheated.

The computer makers said the affected batteries were shipped as the primary or spare battery pack for Gateway 400VTX and 450ROG series notebooks sold between May 2003 to August 2003. The packs were sold through Gateway's Professional and Direct channels, including its Gateway Country stores. The battery cells were made by Samsung Electronics and assembled into battery packs by Simplo Technology, of Taiwan.

Gateway urges customers to inspect their laptop battery to see if it checks out. If the pack is labeled by part numbers: 6500760 or 6500761 with "made by SMP" on underside of the battery pack, you've got yourself a potential live one. Stop using the battery immediately and contact Gateway to receive a free replacement battery.

Customers with the offending laptops can still use their computer by removing the battery pack and using the AC adapter.

You can get an illustrated guide to checking your battery and who to contact at Gateway's battery site.

Given the timeframe and year the notebooks in question were sold, this almost certainly isn't a redux of the Great Sony Battery Recall of 2006. Gateway expects direct costs from the recall will be limited to incidental expenses associated with administering the exchange program. The company reports it is working with its suppliers to cover the cost.

That's not to say the ghost of Sony Battery Recalls Past aren't still haunting the industry. Despite efforts to get the word out, many customers remain in the dark about battery swap-out programs — that is, until the subject is illuminated by deadly fire.

Just today The Register has reported on a Toshiba laptop nuking courtesy a battery that would have been covered by the Sony recall. ®

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