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Japan Demands Probe of iPod Nano Flameouts 339

Posted by kdawson
from the hot-pockets dept.
iminplaya sends in an item from TechNewsWorld that begins, "Several incidents of iPod Nanos bursting into flames have created consumer jitters in gadget-happy Japan. Apple is downplaying the problem, pointing out that no major injuries or damage have been reported. The problem is due to defective batteries, the company said, and only a tiny percentage of the devices have caught on fire." Japan has seen 14 such incidents so far, two in recent days. iminplaya adds, "I like that. Only a 'tiny percentage'... Is anybody beginning to understand why I would prefer that these devices not be allowed on airplanes?"
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Japan Demands Probe of iPod Nano Flameouts

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  • Re:Just Nanos? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by x2A (858210) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:03AM (#24668573)

    The batteries are controlled by circuitry that starts it charging, and stops it when the battery reports that it's full. If this circuitry is defective, charging can happen past its safe charge level causing overheating and eventual spontaneous combustion.

    My guess would be (if there is correlation) that as nanos are targetting more towards the lower end of the market; people who are looking for cheap, there's more scope for reducing costs by skimping on the battery, which increases chance of there being defective circuitry controlling battery charging. OR of course it could just be coincidence :-p

  • by occamboy (583175) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:22AM (#24668685)
    LiPo batteries (used in iPods and lots of other devices) are little roman candles when the go off: video here [youtube.com].

    Some LiPos are pretty sketchy - we've had a few in prototypes "pillow" (fill with gas), but no explosions yet. Definitely a no-no in medical devices, particularly implantables!
  • by plasmacutter (901737) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:31AM (#24668753)

    You're aware that Apple's "Pro" line is the one that's rated for unusually high quality, right? Not the consumer grade iMac or MacBooks...

    I'm also aware my friend is now on his third macbook pro in 2 years, and he has to ice-pack it all the time because it overheats.

    He's been a user since system 6, and we're both unimpressed.

  • Good for Japan! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GrahamCox (741991) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:54AM (#24668891) Homepage
    Japan demands...something or other.

    And the batteries in these iPods? "Made In Japan". Glad to see they take their own QA so seriously.
  • by julesh (229690) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @06:12AM (#24670603)

    Lithium-ion cells are unstable, intolerant of overcharging, and energy-dense enough to be a real problem when they fail.

    LiFePO4 is a possible answer. They're a little more expensive than Li-ion, and have slightly lower energy density, but they don't evolve gasses during charging, which makes them somewhat safer.

  • by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @08:25AM (#24671477) Homepage Journal

    Opposition to terrorism is mostly for show. Most of this post-9/11 crap is.

    Gee, the department of homeland security, eh? Tell me, would their job be DEFENDING people in our country? Maybe we should have a department of defense instead?

    Oh wait! We've got one of those, but all it's interested in is bombing the middle east!

  • by Sj0 (472011) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @08:40AM (#24671651) Homepage Journal

    If I was doing a Reliability Centered Maintenance program for the airlines, and this failure mode came up, it would rank very very low on my scale in terms of human risk, and we probably wouldn't take any actions to mitigate or prevent it. Someone's battery bursting into flames probably won't cause more than slight injury. It won't cause major damage to the aircraft. It won't cause any environmental impact to speak of.

    I'd even go so far as to say the risk to my airline's reputation by continuing to stupidly and arbitrarily ban objects would outweigh the risk to my airline's reputation by one of these things catching fire. It's not like the plane will ever be in any danger.

    On the other hand, I stopped being risk-averse when I realised I live in a town where I could be beaten, stabbed, or shot by members of the street gang Indian Posse. Do I hide and give up on life so they can't take mine, or do I live my life, accepting that there are risks in simply leaving the house?

  • by The_Wilschon (782534) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @10:08AM (#24673001) Homepage

    Anyway... Narita handled 16,464 flights in March; 0.001% would be an engine fire every six months, just for Narita.

    No. You're assuming that every single ipod that catches fire does so on an airplane. How much time does the average ipod actually spend in the air, hm?

    What you've actually calculated is that every six months, Narita will host a passenger who owns an ipod which will at some point in time catch fire. These are very different thing.

    Gah! Innumeracy everywhere!

  • by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday August 20, 2008 @12:16PM (#24675611) Journal

    terrible all around macbook quality (mine's 1.5 years old and literally falling to pieces, including the graphics unit)

    Funny, I beat the *shit* out of my laptops, and my MacBook is no worse for wear after 18 months. The last two HPs I owned, however, only lasted 12 months each. I'd love to see what you would have done with them...

    How does a "graphics unit" "litterally fall to pieces" anyway?

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