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Pissed-off Dell laptop owners seek answer to cat-pee odors

Months of complaints about the smell of cat pee emanating from new Dell 6430u laptops cap off with an official response to the stinky problem.

Dell logo on a cat
Dell and cats don't really go together.
Amanda Kooser/CNET

You know that new-computer smell, the scent of Styrofoam packing materials, ink on instruction books, and fresh plastic. Buyers of Dell's Latitude 6430u ultrabook have been complaining for months about a more odoriferous issue with their new machines, along the lines of eau de cat piss.

The hub for complaints is a Dell tech support discussion titled "New 6430u smells awful." It contains a veritable bouquet of descriptive missives, including, "The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcat's litter box."

User DaveFWA writes, "I have been blaming a new kitten who I swore was creeping into my closed backpack at night and magically only hitting the PC with a concentrated urine stream which then magically evaporated." DaveFWA has since apologized to the kitten for the false accusation.

The complaints started back in June, with Dell tech support initially suggesting cleaning the keyboard with a soft cloth and using a can of compressed air to blow out the laptop vents. But that only served to blow the stench around, according to a number of Latitude 6430u owners. After replacing computers and investigating smelly sample units, Dell finally came out with an explanation Wednesday, blaming the offensive odor on the device's palm rest, and more specifically to an unnamed "manufacturing process that has now been changed."

Dell is asking owners of the feline-whizz-scented laptops to contact tech support to arrange for a replacement of the palm rest. Dell senior technical consultant SteveB has the official response, saying, "The issue was fully investigated and Dell has determined that the smell is not at all related to cat urine or any biological contaminate. Further testing revealed that there is no health hazard related to the smell."

So there you go. The culprit wasn't Miss Fluffytoes von Catpants. It wasn't an overdose of online LOLcats. It was a palm rest. Hopefully, owners of the offending devices will find the fix refreshing.

The ultrabook owners only had to put up with a few months of embarrassing odors and hiding their laptops from client meetings before a fix was found. Hey, at least it didn't smell like musk ox urine. I hear that's the worst.

(Via BoingBoing)