Compaq has recalled around 55,000 battery packs used in its Armada E500 and V300 notebook computers, because they could short-circuit and potentially cause fires inside the machines.

The move came just two weeks after rival Dell recalled about 27,000 batteries sold with models of its Latitude and Inspiron notebook PCs that were introduced in June.

Compaq said the two recalls are not related despite the similar nature of the problems. The battery packs being recalled by Compaq were made by Sony whereas Dell's were produced by Sanyo.

In both cases, the batteries can short-circuit, causing them to overheat, release smoke and catch fire. Compaq said it recently discovered the defect in a battery pack manufactured between 2 June and 10 July. The pack overheated and released smoke, damaging the PC it was in.

Although only one problematic pack has been found so far, Compaq and Sony said the possibility of fire made them order a recall "to ensure the safety of customers".

Users affected are eligible to receive two free replacement packs for each one they have now. Compaq urged users to immediately stop using the batteries, which were distributed worldwide as standard components of Armada notebooks and sold as spares.

The serial numbers for the defective battery packs are as follows: TCGK 00001-10500, TCGK 20001-21800, TCGK 40001-83100 and TCHK 40001-44700.

In May, IBM recalled 220,000 AC power adapters used with the company's ThinkPad notebooks.