October 4, 2001 1:55 PM PDT

Compaq recalls 1.4 million power adapters

Compaq Computer is recalling nearly 1.4 million notebook power adapters, citing fire risk.

The company on Thursday issued a recall for the AC power adapters and their cords, used with Compaq Armada and Prosignia notebooks manufactured between September 1988 and July 2001.

There have been five reported incidents of fire and no reports of injury, Compaq said.

"We've worked very closely with the Consumer Product Safety Council to follow an orderly recall. We want to be very proactive to ensure the safety of our customers," Compaq spokesman Mike Hockey said.

The fire risk comes from electrical arcing inside the brick-shaped, plastic case that houses the adapter. This causes heat to build up, deforming the case and potentially leading to a fire, Hockey said.

The recall includes 594,000 units in North America, 620,000 units in Europe and 85,000 units in Latin America. The recall focuses on adapters with the serial numbers PPP003, PPP003SD and PP2012. The adapters came with Armada models 100S, 110, V300, M300, E500, M700, 3500 and E500S, as well as Prosignia models 100, 170 and 190.

It hasn't been a particularly good week for Compaq, which warned Tuesday that it will post an operating loss for the third quarter. Compaq CEO Michael Capellas blamed the cause on a "perfect storm," including slowed sales in the wake of the HP deal and logistics problems caused by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the recent typhoon in Taiwan.

Notebook power adapters have repeatedly been recalled due to potential fire hazard.

This summer, Apple Computer recalled 570,000 adapters, citing fire risk. IBM recalled 320,000 adapters for the same reason last year. And Dell recalled 233,000 adapters for its Latitude LM in 1997, citing risk of electrical shock.

The Consumers Product Safety Council said that Compaq notebook owners with the affected systems should discontinue using the adapter and contact Compaq for a free replacement.

Compaq and Dell Computer also have issued recalls for notebook batteries within the past year. Dell recalled 284,000 batteries in May, citing a flaw that caused one unit to catch fire. Last fall, Compaq recalled 55,000 notebook batteries in its Armada V300 and E500--two of the notebooks also involved in Thursday's adapter recall--saying the batteries could short-circuit and cause fires.

Information about the recall is available on the Consumer Product Safety Council's Web site.

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I currently own and operate a component level repair shop dedicated to Laptop computers. I'm seeing a recurring problem regarding the Compaq presario 700 series notebooks, And the (twin/similar) EVO models. I've repaired a vast ammount of these with regards to a supply circuit arc fault prior to the surface mount fuse placed for protection. This is in MY opinion unsafe. The DC connector solder joints start to fail, Or the board gets a Hot spot in the supply circuit prior to the fuse. This causes an Arc condition which in many cases has opened a hole the size of a dime up in the board. This coupled by dust drawn in the immediate intake fan, Is not a good thing. They can literally catch on fire. I've re-designed the connector to incorporate a saddled fuse protecting the circuit PRIOR to any source of power. In the whole of this model I have repaired, I've yet to see even one fuse open and do the job it was designed to do. This is NOT an attack against HP/Compaq merely an informational concern that needs to be rectified. We can be contacted through our web @ www.ikenfixit.com
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