Nvidia is one of a handful of companies that is trying to make a play for the gaming system space, but a defect in one of its marquee consumer products could damage its reputation before it truly gets started.
The Nvidia Shield tablet is under a recall. If you own one of these 8-inch Android slates, you can contact Nvidia for a replacement device. This recall is in response to the threat that the Shield’s lithium-ion battery can overheat and burst into flames, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
This is a potentially deadly situation, and it’s also one that could negatively mark Nvidia’s Shield brand, which it has invested heavily in. The tablet is part of a three-product line that includes a dedicated handheld controller with an attached screen as well as its recently released $200 Android TV box, which is also simply called Shield. All of these products are centered around Nvidia’s growing cloud service that streams games over the Internet similar to the way Netflix works with video. But gamers are already skeptical of streaming and the cloud due to concerns about bandwidth and latency, and — while unrelated — this battery problem will only give customers another reason to avoid using Nvidia products.
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One of the biggest issues for Nvidia is that offering people a way to play games is a crowded, competitive space. You can spend a couple hundred dollars on a Shield product, but — at this point — why would you take that risk (even if it is only a perceived risk) when you could get an Xbox One or PlayStation 4 for just a little bit more or a gaming PC with Windows 10 or Steam Machine for a little bit more than that. These alternatives can all play many of the same games, and some even have cloud streaming or local streaming from a PC to a TV.
“Nvidia has received four report of batteries overheating due to thermal runaway,” reads a CPSC report. “[This includes] two reports of damage to flooring.”
We asked Nvidia for a comment, and it explained that this is a learning experience.
“Nvidia and the consumer-electronics industry continue to learn a great deal about battery technology and battery manufacturing processes,” a spokesperson told GamesBeat. “We have implemented enhanced quality control processes and we continue to aggressively adopt best practices to avoid such concerns in the future.”
For now, Nvidia is working with the CPSC, and it has agreed to replace all Nvidia Shields that are affected by this problem. That amounts to 88,000 units in the United States and Canada. If you own an Nvidia Shield tablet and are wondering if you are covered under this recall, you’ll need to do the following:
- Check the side of your Shield for the model number
- Look for model number “P1761,” “P1761W,” or “P1761WX”
- And check to see if your have a serial number from “0410215901781” through “0425214604018”
- If you have both of the above, then you’ll need to get in touch with Nvidia.
- Either call Nvidia toll free: (888)943.4196
- Or go to Nvidia.com, scroll to the bottom, and click on “Nvidia Tablet Recall Program” link.
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