September, 2006 — Dell and Apple recently issued recalls of notebook batteries because they may overheat, and, in a famous case, actually burst into flame. Because many notebook vendors source their components from the same manufacturers, there may be more recalls on the way.
There has been some discussion within the industry that while notebooks have become faster, with bigger screens, faster hard drives and many other power-hungry, heat-generating features, too little effort has gone into dealing with the resulting heat. Additionally, users demand greater battery performance, requiring more juice packed into the same space. One theory is that heat (and corresponding safety) problems will only increase until this is dealt with at an architectural level. In the Dell case, it is said that the faulty batteries were simply a manufacturing fault and not a fundamental design problem.
In any case, regardless of the battery situation in a given model, notebook users should always follow safe procedures. Ensure the machine has space around it for air circulation and that the fan outlet is not blocked. If the machine is unattended, shut it down or close the panel to suspend, then turn it off at the power. This will let the notebook, battery and A/C adaptor cool, and the battery won't be charging or generating heat. This is also cheaper because it won't be drawing power.
October, 2008 — New recall of some Toshiba, Dell and HP/Compaq notebook batteries.
January, 2009 — Recall of some i-Mate JAMA batteries.
May, 2009 — Recall of some Hewlett-Packard/Compaq Pavilion/Presario batteries.
September, 2009 — AC adaptors in some Acer Aspires will overheat due to BIOS bug.
October, 2009 — Some Acer Aspires will overheat due to microphone cable.
November, 2009 — Acer Aspire Notebook may overheat due to frayed cable.
April, 2010 — Targus Universal Wall/Auto/Air Power Adaptor may melt or char.
June, 2010 — Battery recall for certain Hewlett-Packard/Compaq models.
July, 2010 — Sony models may overheat, require BIOS upgrade.
September, 2010 — Some Toshiba Satellite T130 models may have faulty DC input jacks
June, 2011 — Battery packs on certain HP/Compaq 65XX, 67XX models
HP run a website which contains all their battery recalls to date, so it is worthwhile for all HP/Compaq notebook owners to check their model against the lists shown, even if you do not have one of the models in the new recall or you have checked in the past. They have an online process where you enter details of your notebook and battery and they will advise if the battery is affected.