Update Dell today asked 4.4m notebook users to return their power adaptors after it admitted these peripherals pose both a fire and electric shock hazard.
The potentially faulty parts may overheat. if they do, they could catch fire or split open, exposing live electric connections. Dell asked users affected by the problem to cease using their adaptors immediately.
The AC adaptors in question were sold with notebooks and as standalone accessories. Those parts shipped alongside computers were bundled with Dell's Precision M40' Latitude CP, CPi, CPiA, CPtC, CPiR, CPxH, CPtV, CS, CSx, CPxJ, CPtS, C500, C510, C540, C600, C610, C800, C805, C810, V700, C-Dock and C-Port; and Inspiron 2500, 2600, 2650, 3700, 3800, 4000, 4100, 4150, 5000, 7500, 7550, 8000, 8100, Advanced Port Replicator and Docking Station.
The adaptors were shipped between September 1998 and February 2002 inclusive. The words 'Dell' and 'P/N 9364U', 'P/N 7832D' or 'P/N 4983D' are printed on the back of the adapters. So too is the name of the manufacturer linked to the faulty adaptors: Delta Electronics of Thailand, according to Dell's recall website.
Delta was the manufacturer of the parts at the centre of this past September's IBM ThinkPad AC adaptor recall. Like IBM, Dell said its adaptors could overheat with the possibility that they might catch fire.
IBM recalled 500,000 parts. Added to Dell's total, that takes the number of faulty adaptors to 4.9m. Some 2.9m of Dell's 4.4m at-risk adaptors were sold in the US.
Still, Delta has almost certainly shipped plenty more adaptors than this, none of which have warranted manufacturer recalls. Indeed, the company claims a 20 per cent share of the switching power supply adaptor market. Our PowerBook G4 runs very happily off a slightly warm Delta adaptor.
Dell stressed that not all adaptors shipped during the period in question pose a potential hazard. Full details of affected products can be found here.
This is Dell's second major notebook-related recall this year. In July, the company warned that 38,000 Auto/Air Adaptor accessory offered alongside a number of Latitude, Inspiron and Precision notebooks between December 2003 and May 2004 could cause electric shocks. ®