Toshiba sued over Satellite notebook design

Satellite 5005 series owners in the US allege the company concealed a design flaw which causes the notebooks to overheat and shut down.

          Owners of Toshiba's Satellite 5005 series notebooks, among the first to use desktop processors in mobile PCs, have filed a class-action lawsuit against Toshiba America. They allege the company knowingly concealed a design flaw that caused the notebooks to overheat and shut down, and compounded the problem with its attempts to fix the situation.

          The suit specifically states that Toshiba was aware its Satellite 5005-S504 and Satellite 5005-S507 contained a design flaw that made them unable to perform at advertised levels due to their inability to dissipate heat from their 1.1GHz Pentium III processors from Intel.

          Toshiba marketed the notebooks as "the ultimate multimedia machine", but the notebooks were unable to handle the high levels of processing power needed for gaming and multimedia presentations, the suit alleges.

          BIOS upgrades provided by Toshiba to solve the problem prevent the notebooks from shutting down, but at the expense of processing speed, rendering them unsuitable for multimedia applications, the plaintiffs say.

          Toshiba has distributed two software fixes since March designed to correct thermal problems in the notebooks. It blamed a BIOS glitch for the problems, which it said affected a small number of notebooks. Both the plaintiffs and members of a Yahoo user group devoted to the issue allege that while the fixes did solve the heat dissipation problems, it slowed their notebooks down to speeds equivalent to entry-level notebooks.

          Several Satellite 5005 series users created a message board on Yahoo's website in May to air their frustrations and difficulties with the notebooks, and the fixes. As of last week, the group had 320 members.

          The Satellite 5005-S504 originally sold for around $US2000, depending on the configuration, and currently sells for around $US1700, according to data on industry price guide Pricewatch.com.

          Toshiba was not immediately available for comment.

          Desktop processors have been used in notebook computers over the last year as a way to inexpensively boost performance. Other manufacturers have used different designs to solve heat problems in notebooks with desktop components.

          Dell and Gateway have both introduced notebook computers with desktop processors from Intel this year. Both companies acknowledged concessions to increased heat produced by desktop processors when they announced the products.

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