Dell and Sony report mass hardware failures

Hardware is having a rough season.

After all the attention heaped on the iPhone 4 and its antenna and screen woes, two big PC manufacturers have come out today with bad news about their machines. According to Gizmodo, documents have been unsealed that show Dell shipping 11.8 million Optiplex computers in 2003-2005 with a 97% failure rate. Apparently, the capacitors built into those motherboards were almost always going to fail, and Dell was perfectly aware of the situation. It was a cost-cutting measure, one that they shockingly didn't expect to get stung by in the future. According to the NY Times investigation of the issue, employees were told to obfuscate the real reason for the failure from upset customers. In an email exchange uncovered by lawyers working on the ongoing case, one employee said, “We need to avoid all language indicating the boards were bad or had ‘issues’ per our discussion this morning.” Ira Winkler, a former NSA analyst and technology consultant, did not have good things to say about the venerable PC maker.

“They were fixing bad computers with bad computers and were misleading customers at the same time...They knew millions of computers would be out there causing inevitable damage and were not giving people an opportunity to fix that damage.”

The other fiasco was started by Sony, who is recalling 500,000 Vaio laptops today, citing temperature control issues that can distort the shape of the notebooks and cause actual burning of human skin, according to. There is a download that Sony is making available that will allegedly fix the defect, but Sony is offering free physical repairs to ameliorate the problem as well, according to Gizmodo. A commenter on Gizmodo's story reported that his Vaio actually comes with a bright yellow warning label that cautions the user to never use the computer while the laptop is touching your skin.

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