Nvidia Recalls 88,000 Shield Tablets Over Battery Hazard
What is it with lithium ion batteries overheating and exploding? It’s called thermal runaway and, in the latest episode, Graphics chip maker Nvidia (NVDA) is recalling 88,000 of its gamer-centric, Android-based Shield tablets sold in the last 12 months because a few of their batteries overheated, apparently quite a lot.
The vendor reported that it’s received notice of four instances of the tablet’s lithium ion battery overheating, resulting in two cases of damage to a floor, as filed in complaints with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The recall affects Shield tablets sold in the U.S. and Canada from July 2014 through July 2015.
Consumers purchased some 83,000 units in the U.S. with the remainder bought in Canada during the named period. According to the CPSC, the Nvidia Shield tablets were bought online at Amazon.com, TigerDirect.com and NewEgg.com and at BestBuy and GameStop stores at prices ranging from $300 to $400.
“NVIDIA has received four reports of batteries overheating due to thermal runaway, including two reports of damage to flooring,” the CPSC said. “Consumers should immediately stop using the tablets and contact NVIDIA for instructions on receiving a free replacement tablet.”
What’s thermal runaway? Lithium ion batteries, produced by the hundreds of millions and regularly used in smartphones, tablets and all manner of other installations, can spontaneously melt down or blow up when one segment of the unit gets too hot too quickly and can’t cool down, setting off a domino chain reaction that generates more and more heat until…whammo, the thing catches on fire and explodes.
In the past 10 years, lithium ion battery overheating problems have prompted product recalls by IT heavyweights Apple (AAPL), Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) and Lenovo, among others.
Nvidia, which said it will replace the defective tablets as part of the recall, opened a website to instruct customers on how to determine if they’re holding an affected unit and how to proceed. The recall involves batteries labeled “Y01” on model numbers P1761, P1761W and P1761WX and serial numbers 0410215901781 through 0425214604018, Nvidia said.
Users of the affected tablets are instructed to submit a claim for a replacement device.
Gizmodo pointed out that the Shield’s battery life was insufficient from the get-go, particularly for a tablet whose battery is intended to support the intensive use of gamers who are likely to charge and discharge frequently. Gizmodo characterized Nvidia’s problem as a “great example of a manufacturer mismatching the battery inside a new device to the way users are supposed to use it.”