Sony: Vaio Notebooks Can Burn Your Lap

Japan’s Sony has launched a voluntary recall of 438,000 Vaio portable computers, citing a potential hazard that could cause the machines to overheat or possibly burn a user.

It is one of the biggest computer recalls since 2006 when Dell (NASDAQ: DELL) recalled 4.1 million notebook computer batteries because they could overheat and catch fire.

Sony’s (NYSE: SNE) recall affects 72,800 computers in the United States, a Sony spokesman said on Thursday.

Sony received 15 reports of overheating, including one of a consumer who suffered a minor burn, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission said.

The flaw, in Sony’s VGN-TZ100, VGN-TZ200, VGN-TZ300 and VGN-TZ2000 series computers, is related to “irregularly positioned wires near the computer’s hinge and/or dislodged screw inside the hinge” that can cause a short circuit and overheat, the agency said.

“This poses a burn hazard to consumers,” the agency added. “Sony has initiated a voluntary program to perform a free inspection and, if necessary, a repair to ensure these units meet our high quality standards.”

Sony has been dogged in recent years by recalls of laptop computer batteries amid concerns they would overheat and catch fire. In 2006, Dell, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), Lenovo, Toshiba and some other PC makers recalled more than 8 million Sony batteries.

Sony declined to comment on the potential cost it will incur to repair the computers.

Shares of Sony trading in the U.S. dipped 2.4 percent to $36.75 on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday afternoon. The shares are down more than 30 percent so far this year.

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