Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Dell Recalls Batteries

Ahh the news could not have come at a better time. I was having problems with the battery that came with my Dell Inspiron 9300. Just 7 days before Dell recalled the batteries, I found out that my laptop battery was getting very very hot. I usually put my laptop on my lap and so I could feel the severe heat coming from right under the battery. It became very hot at one concentrated location. May be one or two cells in the battery has problems and were heating up. So I immediately switched off my laptop. Opened battery pack and inspected it for any leaks or burns. But seemed perfectly OK. So I put it back in and this time it did not get so hot. I though the issue might have got fixed. How wrong I was!

A day after that incident occured, I unplugged my laptop's power supply to move it to a different room and that was my mistake (and my luck too). As soon as I unplugged it my laptop died because the battery was dead. I lost all my unsaved work :-(. I always leave my laptop on 24/7 and I like to keep it that way so that the random cron jobs on my Gentoo Linux, can do their thing. And I usually move my laptop from room to room and that is pretty much all I need the battery for. I have it plugged in all the time and rarely work on battery. So it was all too hurtful to buy a battery just for the few minutes I need my laptop to run on batteries. Anyway I decided to buy one. But kiss my good luck, Dell is recalling the batteries. Read more at

CPSC, Dell Announce Recall of Notebook Computer Batteries
Dell recalls 35,000 notebook batteries
Dell Recalls Batteries Because of Fire Threat

Before my battery died completely I was observing that it was holding less and less charge for the past 3 months. When I first brought my laptop I could get around 2 hours of battery life. But over the past month or two, the time came down from 30 minutes to 10 minutes to 5 minutes. I know batteries tend to loose the capacity overtime but not this drastic.

I was surprised that Sony with it's reputation for producing excellent products made this mistake. At least there is some good news for Dell since Sony has agreed to share the cost of battery recall with Dell. More information can be found at Sony to help pay for Dell recall.

An interesting comment from the above article, "The defect was caused by a short circuit that happens when microscopic metal particles break through the lithium ion cell wall and contact a battery anode, said Sony spokesman Rick Clancy." That explains why my battery became so hot near 1 or 2 cells. One more interesting quote from the same article "Dell is not known for their engineering prowess, are they? Sony is an engineering company, and Dell is a marketing and sales company."

For now I am happy my battery will be replaced for free. Good that I did not make a hasty decision to buy another battery!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

This is my first stab at blogging!

Heard the good news about the latest Intel Processor? I have been waiting for this processor for a long time. The conroe (for desktops) and merom (for mobile platforms) are out. I am so glad that Intel finally did something new and innovative, lessons mostly learnt from AMD. The processor has better performance/watt. I love having laptops with the latest "stuff" and so usually end up purchasing one every year. But this time around I held off the though just to buy a laptop with Intel Core 2 Duo. Intel announced the new processors on July 27, but looks like the desktops/laptops equipped with this latest processors won't be out until perhaps end of August. Even then they will be in limited numbers I guess. Interesting to note that Intel announced the mobile version at the same time as the desktop version since initially the roadmap looked like the merom would be released towards the end of August.

Here are a few links proving that this new processor is much faster than the latest AMD processor and yet consumes lesser power.
Game Over? Core 2 Duo Knocks Out Athlon 64
THG Tuning Test: Core 2 Extreme vs. Athlon 64 FX-62

But this is by no means to say Intel is better than AMD. AMD did not yet make any big steps except than AM2. Intel still has to get the memory controller right. With AM2 socket AMD has integrated memory controller using DDR2 memory and provide almost double the bandwidth than the extreme version of the Intel Core 2. There are rumors that Intel might follow AMD style memory controller. If that happens Intel can really have an advanced processor. I am still debating whether to buy a laptop with napa platform in the next couple of months or wait for almost another year for the santa rosa platform which seems to be very promising with it's higher FSB clock rate of 800 MHz, lower power consumption and 801.11n WLAN chipset. Time will tell! But for now time does tell us that Intel's NetBurst architecture will be history and for all the good reasons too...