back to article Toshiba warns of fiery laptops

Toshiba and US and Canadian consumer watchdogs are recalling three laptop models after receiving reports that people have been burned by the AC adapters. Tosh said about 41,000 machines had the fault, which can cause the plug-in AC adapter to overheat. The company has received 129 reports of overheating causing the plastic …


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  1. Joefish

    Hang on, where's the fault?

    The power supply is burning up, so the fix is to furtle with the laptop's firmware (to lower the peak power demand, presumably)?

    Shouldn't the PSU have some sort of protection in it, you know, to comply with some sort of law or something?

    1. AndyS

      The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

      I think the key is in this sentence: "It will tell you if your machine is overheating and disable its external power supply if it is."

      that seems to say it will disable the DC input until such time as Toshiba load a new firmware to re-enable it.

      If that's true, it means that from when you load the new firmware, you have exactly as much juice as is in your battery until you'll need to return it for fixing.

      1. JimC Silver badge

        > as much juice

        You're reading is much the same as mine: yeah, OK the laptop will be useless, but at least you won't be able to sue Toshiba...

        What I wonder is how you get the firmware to reenable the DC input on the laptop if the battery has gone flat and external power is inoperative...

        1. Alex King
          Thumb Down

          Or maybe...

 just disables the power supply until it cools down, then switches it back on.

    2. leexgx


      not the PSU thats overheating its the charge circuit that is due to an fault in the PSU

  2. Craig Foster

    Recent Toshiba lemons

    I've got a bunch of clients with Toshiba Portege R700s and they they lock up every other day with fans at 100%.

    The "fix" is to disable the fingerprint scanner - seriously? We're already on firmware 1.4 (started as 1.1 earlier this year) and it hasn't fixed the problem on what is an expensive not-so-heavy paperweight as far as customers are concerned...

    Toshiba 25th Anniversary models = FAIL

    1. Ivan Headache

      Now where is Jaitch

      when you need a sensible comment?

  3. Doug Glass

    Why not ...

    ... just replace the power supply? Could it be the case the power supply is poorly matched to the needs of the computer and is therefore overheating because it's underrated for the battery's needs?

    If the battery circuitry is simply drawing more than the supply is designed to provide, a BIOS update is not going to fix that. This seems soooooo similar to Apple's iPhone 4 fix for the wrong number of signal strength bars being displayed. Good fix for the wrong problem.

    Any underrated power supply is going to overheat on any electrical device, computer or not. All sounds frelling fishy to me.

    1. leexgx


      not the PSU that's overheating its the charge circuit that is due to an fault in the PSU

    2. Nigel 11


      It may not be fishy. Maybe just a bit like a hybrid car (which charges the battery while the engine doesn't have anything better to do).

      Provided the PSU can supply enough power to run the CPU at peak usage and a small trickle to the battery, all is well (provided you don't expect a rapid recharge while playing games!) The halt-and-catch-fire bug presumably is trying to take too much battery charge current from the PSU while the CPU is maximally loading it.

      I do wonder about engineering it like this, to save the small amount of money? or weight? that a PSU with an extra ten? Watts would cost.

  4. YumDogfood

    Pinto day

    Who the hell is specifying and designing these things? Wot, the nut roasting sensor too expensive eh?

  5. NoneSuch
    IT Angle

    IT Crowd advice

    Did you try turning it off and on again?

  6. Steve 72

    Toshiba or Toyota?

    Thought I was reading a car page there for a second.

    In line with Craig Foster's comments above, I have noticed a decline in Toshiba myself quality of late.

  7. A handle is required

    "Worldwide recall of ball burners"

    If this issue has prompted a "Worldwide recall of ball burners" then do some among us keep their AC adapters tucked away in their crotch while computing?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Where was the rant bout apple in this article, or the sly side swipe? I am reading el Reg? I guess i will have to wait for readers comments then

  9. CapitalW

    "Worldwide recall of ball burners"

    Oh, nuts......

    Mine has the fireproof pockets.

  10. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    What has failed & what BIOS update does

    I wasn't real clear with what the BIOS update did for sure, I thought the situation was like what Joe and Doug Glass thought, that the power supply was cooking itself. But based on the Toshiba pages, it's not a case of one of those little power bricks getting molten hot, it's basically a fault at the power supply connector in the laptop (Toshiba deems it a "harness failure"). I suppose it's got multiple temperature sensors, if there's not a sensor at the harness the BIOS can compare readings to tell if that portion of the machine is heating up more than the parts that normally heat up. If so, it somehow lunches the power supply, and then pops up the warning to have Toshiba repair it. I'm not impressed at them designing a power connector that melts, but I'm impressed at them for effectively implementing detection and protection for it.

    "If the battery circuitry is simply drawing more than the supply is designed to provide, a BIOS update is not going to fix that. "

    Actually battery charging rates are software controllable in a lot of cases -- Gateway had a specific battery exercise utility that'd fast-charge and fast drain the battery, and if you plug the normal Dell power brick into one the real nut burners, it'll chastise you at bootup for not using the 65W brick and then just trickle charges the battery instead of ramming that power back into the battery as fast as possible. It's highly likely Toshiba could cut power draw a bit, but I think this is a mechanical failure where reducing the current wouldn't extend the service life a bit.

    Yeah... Toshiba. My dad has a satellite, which is pretty nice with Ubuntu 10.04 on it, but the store was unloading them for almost nothing because as shipped they were a basket case. They weren't shipped with Ubuntu, they shipped with Vista and 512MB of RAM, and an ATI chipset that is not XP compatible (no drivers for anything).

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    129 reports of overheating causing the plastic case to deform.

    Deform? Is this pr speak for melt?

  12. heyrick Silver badge

    In my day, real engineers would...

    ...not just design a power brick that an work at all sorts of voltages automatically, but also be smart enough to disable itself if it overheated.

    ...would be adequately matched to the needs of the equipment running it (the eeePC bricklette gets pretty hot when running the computer AND charging; but the worst offender I saw myself was the iomega Zip power lump, not to mention any analogue Sky box made by Amstrad...).

    ...would raise an eyebrow at the thought of a laptop being able to programmatically disable its power input jack.

    And anyway, is that really the best solution? To disable input power? What if you're in a meeting and using the machine and you don't have a lot of battery life? Wouldn't it make more sense to turn the computer into an ultra-low-power mode (like, say, running the 1.6GHz Atom in the eeePC at 1.2GHz (or lower?) and if a harddisc, setting it for short spindown (not that that'd make a whole lot of difference in Windows!)).

  13. leexgx

    the problem

    the problem is not that the Power pack over heating its the charge circuit that getting hot its is due to the Power Pack pushing out an incorrect power (wave form or something not voltage or Amps) that making the charge circuit get hot and its the Laptop socket area that is melting (most likely under the laptop)

    the Power packs are what's getting replaced not the laptop unless it deformed the laptop

  14. [Yamthief]

    Can't you lot read?

    You all FAIL.

    The DC in jack of the notebook has a fault which causes it to overheat.

    The AC adapter does not overheat and is in no way affected.

    There are only a few units which are effected (Manufacturing plant specific?).

    A BIOS update detects affected units and disables the DC in jack.

    The BIOS update also alters the cooling module to ensure an unaffected notebook is kept cool at all times.

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