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Sony won't recall Transmeta notebooks despite problems

The company is warning Japanese customers that there might be problems with their laptops if they reinstall the operating system, but it won't recall the products.

Sony isn't recalling its Transmeta-based notebooks, although the company is warning Japanese customers that some of the computers might have problems.

Sony representatives announced Thursday that the company will not recall Vaio notebooks containing Crusoe chips from Transmeta, refuting news reports from other press agencies. The Vaio notebooks in question are sold in Japan and the United States, but Sony said the potential problem is limited to products sold in Japan.

Despite its decision against a recall, Sony is warning Japanese customers they may experience problems reloading the operating system because of a defect found in some Crusoe chips. The notebooks went on sale in Japan in early October.

On Wednesday, PC maker NEC announced that close to 300 Crusoe-based notebooks will be recalled because of manufacturing defects in a batch of chips. The defect made it difficult to reinstall the operating system on the NEC notebook.

The errant chips have been identified, Transmeta said in a statement, and are no longer being manufactured. Still, some of the chips may have found their way into some of the Vaio notebooks sold in Japan.

Although a recall from Sony doesn't appear to be in the works, Transmeta's stock continues to lag in an overall grim market. In late afternoon trading Thursday, the stock was selling for $21.63, or 9 percent below Wednesday's close and just slightly above its $21 initial public offering earlier this month.

Transmeta makes processors for notebooks, Web-surfing pads and Internet appliances. The company asserts that the chips consume less power than competing chips from Intel. Because of this difference, notebooks that contain the chips ideally will have longer battery lives and not require fans to cool them down.

Gateway and America Online have selected Transmeta processors for their new Internet appliance, the Touch Pad. By contrast, IBM admitted it dropped a project to bring out a Crusoe-based notebook because the improved battery life was not as long as the company hoped. Next year, IBM will likely release a ThinkPad that features a low-power chip, but it will likely be a Pentium III, IBM executives said.