Sony issues warning on Vaio battery glitch that could cause burns

The company believes the flaw exists in the nonremovable battery packs in the Vaio Fit 11A hybrid laptop-tablet, which launched in February.

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The Sony Vaio Fit 11A Sony

Sony has issued a warning to all Vaio Fit 11A owners, saying that the nonremovable batteries in the computers could overheat and catch fire.

The company posted a note on its Web site on Friday asking its customers to stop using the Vaio Fit 11A, saying the battery packs "have the potential to overheat, resulting in partial burns to the housing of the PC." Sony asked Vaio Fit 11A owners to "immediately discontinue use, shut down, and unplug the PC."

The Vaio Fit 11A hit store shelves in February for a starting price of $799. The 11-inch laptop comes with a swivel screen that can be flipped around and placed so that it covers the keyboard, creating what's meant to be a tabletlike experience. It also works with a stylus.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported on the issue and spoke with Sony about the flaw, about 26,000 Vaio Fit 11A units are believed to be affected by the glitch. The batteries at risk were made by Panasonic.

Sony told the Journal that it has so far received three reports of overheating causing fire damage to the PC, and that it stopped selling the computer earlier this month in response to those reports.

Sony was very clear in its statement on the matter that it didn't produce the batteries, but it didn't identify Panasonic as the maker. CNET has contacted Panasonic for comment on Sony's post about the safety issue, and we'll update this story when we hear back.

In addition to announcing the flaw, Sony provided a guide for users to find their PC serial numbers and determine whether they have a faulty unit. Sony says that it's currently working on a program to either repair or replace the offending units and will announce more details on that in the coming weeks.

We've contacted Sony for additional comment and will update when we know more.

Sony shares are up 19 cents, or 1 percent, to $18.34 on Friday.

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