On Friday Nvidia announced that it was recalling 83,000 Nvidia Shield Tablets because they have this strange way of spontaneously combusting.
Nvidia hasn’t spilled the details about what exactly is causing some of its Shield tablets to burst into flames, but as of right now the company is placing the blame on batteries that are overheating. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, there have been at 83,000 tablets recalled in the United States, but only four reports of devices that have overheated.
Despite the seemingly small number of incidents, Nvidia is urging customers who may have purchased a Shield tablet within the last year to stop using it immediately.
How to Check Your Shield
Shield tablets sold between 2014 and 2015 are the only ones reportedly affected, which is an interesting distinction to make since the device didn’t launch until July 2014.
Theoretically, all Shield tablets should be affected, but to check you’ll want to navigate your way to the device’s settings menu. After finding the settings, you’ll select the “About Device” option and select “Status”. The “Battery” category has two potential answers: B01 and Y01. B01 batteries are currently unaffected, but Y01 batteries will need to be replaced. If your device is affected, you can view the necessary steps to recall your device here.
A Well-Received Disappointment
For many Shield users, this announcement is met with some major disappointment. The device released with great critical reception and offers a lot of unique features for users who want to take their games with them via the Shield. Even with its great reviews, the device reportedly showed many signs of battery drainage and overheating issues — two telltale signs of issues that have since transpired.
Nvidia Chose the Wrong Battery
The Shield uses a lithium-ion battery, which has already been known to experience issues like thermal runaway. Given that the Shield was created for gamers to play battery-intensive games on, it seemed apparent that many tablets would experience frequent battery discharge and recharge.
The issue with lithium ion batteries is that they aren’t designed to support this type of usage. Inside these batteries are cells containing anodes and cathodes. Liquid electrolyte moves back and forth between the anode and cathode when it charges and discharges. When this is done in quick succession, it causes heat, which can melt insulators and cause short circuiting.
Unfortunately for Nvidia and Shield customers, this seems like a major design oversight.