HP Recalls Tens Of Thousands Of Hot Digital Cameras
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Hewlett-Packards may need the $450 million tax refund from the IRS after its bid to be a player in the digital camera market ran into a problem as the Company is forced to recall tens of thousands of digital camera that can catch on fire when used with a non-rechargeable battery.

HP and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of the software that controls the battery charging functions in the HP Photosmart R707 Digital Camera. About 224,000 of these cameras in the United States and 679,000 worldwide have been purchased between August 2004 and April 2006. Owners can request a CD-ROM or download free software from HP’s Web site to correct the problem.

HP spokeswoman Jennifer Pershall said the software recall is an isolated incident with a simple fix.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s a setback to our overall strategy and goal,” Pershall said. “We have a reputation for providing reliable quality products….Customers should feel confident in using their camera without any concerns about the battery.”

HP initially thought the Photosmart R707, which costs between $250 and $400, could be safely used with either rechargeable or non-rechargeable batteries. But the company later learned that the non-rechargeable Duracell CP-1 battery can cause the camera to overheat and catch on fire when the camera is connected to an AC adapter or a docking station.

Only one incident has been reported of the Photosmart R707 igniting while plugged into the docking station, which caused minor smoke damage to the room but averted bodily injuries.

Larry Lesley, HP’s senior vice president of digital photography and entertainment, said in an interview last week that he has set a “pretty progressive goal” of having HP become the first company that pops into customers’ minds when it comes to photography.

“You look at the Kodak logo today and you think photo,” Lesley said last week, after HP unveiled four digital cameras that should hit store shelves by the fall. “We would like HP to be the iconic symbol of photography for the 21st century.”

HP already has seven cameras on the market. The company introduced its first digital camera in 1997, he said, and got really serious about them three or four years ago. Its newest cameras offer professional photography capabilities to casual consumers in an intuitive way — with larger LCD displays, easier user interfaces and technology that automatically removes red-eye and corrects lighting imbalances, he said.

For more information: Visit HP’s Web site at www.hp.com/go/r707safetyupdate or call HP toll-free at (866) 304-7117 between 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.