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Lawsuit targets Toshiba notebooks

Notebooks are too hot to handle, a class action lawsuit claims. What's more, the suit alleges the hardware doesn't work properly--even after it's been fixed.

Consumer electronics maker Toshiba has been hit with a class action lawsuit that alleges some of the company's notebooks overheat and then don't work properly even after being fixed.

The lawsuit alleges that the design of two Toshiba Pentium III notebooks--the Satellite 5005-S504 and Satellite 5005-S507--is defective, resulting in notebooks that can overheat.

Toshiba issued a fix for the notebook's BIOS, software that facilitates communication between computer hardware and software. The fix aimed to make the computer work in a more energy-efficient manner.

The lawsuit alleges that the software fix slowed notebook performance, however, on a machine that Toshiba advertised as "a multimedia notebook that delivers an unprecedented level of graphics performance."

Toshiba failed to address "hundreds of consumer complaints" concerning this issue, the lawsuit goes on to state. So far, however, the suit represents only two plaintiffs. Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based law firm, represents the plaintiffs.

Toshiba could not be reached for comment.

How to reduce heat created by processors, hard drives and other components is one of the biggest challenges for computer manufacturers. Historically, PC makers incorporated fans and heat sinks--aluminum pipes and fans designed to take heat from one place to another--to keep internal temperatures down. These components, however, often add weight and cost to notebooks.

In recent years, Intel and others have marketed processors that consume less energy, and thus produce less heat. In general, these chips cost more than standard notebook processors, which are more expensive than desktop chips, and run at slower clock speeds.

The suit was filed July 23.