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Toshiba Satellite Laptops: A Widespread Electrical or Grounding Issue?

deelseaker 6,178 9,870 August 25, 2013 at 02:56 PM More Amazon Deals
I recently bought a Toshiba Satellite P50 laptop from a FP deal. I experienced a strange tingling/vibration when touching its aluminum shell. I contacted the customer service who sent me an entire new laptop with a new AC adapter. The same thing happened again. It happens only when the laptop is plugged in into the AC adapter.

Today, I visited my local Costco who had a different Toshiba model (S55) on display. To my surprise, I experienced the same sensation there! I did a quick Google search that brought up this Amazon review/discussion (which 22 of 27 people found helpful):

Toshiba S875 Amazon Review [amazon.com]

So, the problem may be very common. Has anyone on SD experienced this issue with Toshiba (or any other laptops)?

Here is what it feels like:
Quote :
I could feel a slight vibration, or tingling, on the outside of the laptop. ... touching the case and feeling the vibration/tingling. The vibration went away when I unplugged the laptop from the wall. ... I touched with one hand then the other and it stopped. with just one hand touching it tingled. Some times it's worse than other.
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14 Comments

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#2
Quote from deelseaker View Post :
I recently bought a Toshiba Satellite P50 laptop from a FP deal. I experienced a strange tingling/vibration when touching its aluminum shell. I contacted the customer service who sent me an entire new laptop with a new AC adapter. The same thing happened again. It happens only when the laptop is plugged in into the AC adapter.

Today, I visited my local Costco who had a different Toshiba model (S55) on display. To my surprise, I experienced the same sensation there! I did a quick Google search that brought up this Amazon review/discussion (which 22 of 27 people found helpful):

Toshiba S875 Amazon Review [amazon.com]

So, the problem may be very common. Has anyone on SD experienced this issue with Toshiba (or any other laptops)?

Here is what it feels like:
I've experienced it with several metal covered laptops (mostly aluminum).
My situation is a wee bit different in that I'm almost always barefoot, and I live in a humid climate, which would help conductivity, but I have felt the current, even when sitting on a bed, so evidently, one doesn't have to be grounded for it to happen.
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#3
I didn't want to say that I had felt the shock/vibration when using battery power, as I wasn't 100% sure, but this comment from that Amazon link, confirms it.

Quote :
We just received our Toshiba s855d from Amazon and it has the same tingle/vibration issue on the brushed aluminum surfaces ( palm rests and cover). Even did it on battery power. I touched with one hand then the other and it stopped. with just one hand touching it tingled. Some times it's worse than other. First thought it was just a surface anomaly (non voltage/ground issue) but above test disproved that. Not sure if enough of a problem to return, but a quick search on the internet revealed this is not an unusual thing, and it was reported on both Sony and Toshiba brushed aluminum surfaces.
I can't remember all the brands of those that did it, but I can definitely add Acer and HP.
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#4
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
I didn't want to say that I had felt the shock/vibration when using battery power, as I wasn't 100% sure, but this comment from that Amazon link, confirms it.
Yes, I saw that comment. I did not experience it when on battery power. The vibration only when on the A/C power was actually the determining factor for me to be able to say that I was experiencing something that should not have been happening - precisely because it was not happening when on battery power.
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#5
Quote from deelseaker View Post :
Yes, I saw that comment. I did not experience it when on battery power. The vibration only when on the A/C power was actually the determining factor for me to be able to say that I was experiencing something that should not have been happening - precisely because it was not happening when on battery power.
Well, I can't say with 100% certitude that I've felt it on battery, but the long and short of it is whether it bothers you enough to return it.
I fix computers and none of the ones that gave me mini shocks were my own, so I can't say if it would peeve me off enough to not want to own it.
Is yours pretty bad?
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#6
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Well, I can't say with 100% certitude that I've felt it on battery, but the long and short of it is whether it bothers you enough to return it.
I fix computers and none of the ones that gave me mini shocks were my own, so I can't say if it would peeve me off enough to not want to own it.
Is yours pretty bad?
It bothered me as it was pointing to either a bad design or bad quality. Plus, the screen was atrociously bad in comparison to a Dell XPS 15. Back it went. Too bad as it was an excellent value, specs-wise.
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#7
Satellites are very bottom of the barrel machines, along with HP pavilions. They reel people in based on the specs, but the build quality is just atrocious.
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#8
That's common when a 2-prong AC plug or ungrounded wall outlet is used. The PSU has a pair of tiny (5 nF) capacitors wired between 120 VAC line and neutral, with their junction connected together and tied to chassis ground (not earth ground). Because the capacitors are identical, the voltage at that junction will be 60 VAC. It's actually harmless because the capacitors are too small to allow harmful current to flow, and they're specially built and certified to not short. The junction will drop to 0 VAC if you connect the chassis ground to earth ground, which can be done by plugging in a peripheral that uses a 3-wire power supply. However do that only while both the computer and peripheral are disconnected from the AC or that 60 volt difference could damage at least one of those devices. And do NOT connect the neutral line to ground!!! That will make the computer much more dangerous to you.



I use a Toshiba Satellite A205 but connect it to a Dell Lattitude (610d?) power brick, which has a 3-wire AC plug.
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Last edited by larrymoencurly August 28, 2013 at 01:33 AM

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#9
Interesting info. But would it be too much to expect a design when this is not happening?
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#10
Quote from deelseaker View Post :
Interesting info. But would it be too much to expect a design when this is not happening?
If you mean another laptop, the secret is to buy one that has 50 or more user reviews on Amazon (regardless of where you buy it).
You can be sure that with that many user reviews, if there is a problem of that nature, you'll hear about it.
As far as I'm concerned, it's the best way to make smart computer purchases.
So called professional reviews are mostly baloney, IMO.

Have you returned the machine?
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#11
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
Have you returned the machine?
Yes. I wasn't happy with the screen. Two people sitting side-by-side couldn't see the screen because of the very low viewing angle. Coming off a Dell XPS 15, it was a huge downgrade.
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#12
Quote from deelseaker View Post :
Yes. I wasn't happy with the screen. Two people sitting side-by-side couldn't see the screen because of the very low viewing angle. Coming off a Dell XPS 15, it was a huge downgrade.
I can understand that.
The XPS laptops are super fine machines, but they don't give them away for $500.
I guess you get what you pay for.
Any idea of what to buy?
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#13
Quote from RockySosua View Post :
I can understand that.
The XPS laptops are super fine machines, but they don't give them away for $500.
I guess you get what you pay for.
Any idea of what to buy?
Sticking to my XPS 15 for now. Lenovo Y500 is a good option, but the one I got had a bad touchpad. I have no luck with laptops. LMAO Even the XPS 15 required two technician visits and a depot repair. EEK!
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#14
Quote from deelseaker View Post :
Interesting info. But would it be too much to expect a design when this is not happening?
Your perfectly reasonable idea makes no sense to corporate penny-pinchers.

Removing those two capacitors probably will eliminate the tingle without compromising safety, only increasing RF interference a bit, and some power supplies are made without them, to meet safety requirements of medical equipment.. However it's hard to open up those welded plastic power pack cases without damaging the contents.

If you decide to try a grounded power pack, be sure it has genuine UL or CSA certification because the unapproved ones are vastly inferior and lack protection against overloads and over voltage. Some may not even have actual grounds, despite being built for 3-wire AC cords, as I learned when I took apart some power packs for external hard disks (Bytecc brand disk enclosures). BTW Toshiba once recommended substituting their 2-prong power packs for another brand of 3-prong packs for certain Satellites containing AMD-based motherboards but not the Intel-based motherboards, not because of the AC tingle but to reduce crashes caused by AC line noise.. Unfortunately that brand of power pack is no longer available in 3-wire versions, plus it's now a lot lower in quality (UL approval dropped).
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Last edited by larrymoencurly August 28, 2013 at 01:45 AM
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#15
It's just another way for companies to offer lower & lower priced machines - by sacrificing quality. A few years ago a $400 laptop was unheard of, and now people are looking for the sub-$300 machine. THIS is the type of quality you can expect at the bottom of the laptop barrel, and this is why I always try to steer people away from the consumer machines & to the corporate laptops. Yes they're a lot more expensive, but I will buy a used Thinkpad over a new Satellite or Pavilion all day long, and I'll get a longer life out of the thinkpad.
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