All the hurly-burly today about the iPhone 4’s somewhat fragile screen and its inability to survive three 3.5-foot drops reminded me about Nintendo’s efforts to ensure its systems keep on ticking despite severe lickings.
Just look at the Gulf War Game Boy on display at the Nintendo World Store: it survived an aerial bombing, and still plays Tetris just fine! As for the company’s modern handhelds, while a portion of the DS Lite models experienced shoulder buttons issues and cracked hinges, for the most part, the systems are considerably solid.
To make sure its portables could withstand an unexpected kiss with concrete, Nintendo waited until its final DS design was able to work consistently after being dropped ten times from a height of 1.5 meters, or around 4.9 feet (higher than an adult’s breast pocket), before putting the console into production.
Nintendo’s CEO and president Satoru Iwata explains:
“If a kid puts a game console in the basket of their bicycle, then has to make a sudden stop, the console can come flying out — and it’s not going to land on carpet.
So I told them to make it so it could survive being dropped from 1.5 meters onto concrete. The hardware design team screamed, but proceeded to figure out how to pass the test.”
The team dropped dozens of prototype DSes 100 times each, eventually choosing the design that took the most drops to break, according to Osamu Inoue’s recently published book Nintendo Magic. The company had a similar strategy with the Wii, testing the console until it could withstand an 80 kg weight (176 lbs.) for one minute.
And of course, if your DS finds a way to stop working, Nintendo’s customer service department has a reputation for going out of its way to make sure that replacing or repairing your system is as painless as possible.
Buy: Nintendo Magic
See also: Nintendo DS Lite thrown through a wall
[Image via Jacob Kaplan-Moss]