A friend of the family recently had a small panic when his son’s Nintendo DS Lite began experiencing power problems. The guy was convinced that Nintendo had deliberately designed the battery to die before the DS, just to force people to replace the console at considerable expense (or profit, depending on your point of view). I assured him that the battery could be replaced inexpensively, but he was leery of the whole idea.
Was he worried about voiding the long-expired warranty? About permanently damaging the DS? That he was breaking some kind of anti-consumer hardware DRM law? That he was supposed to ship it off to Nintendo for servicing?
He never really explained, so I still don’t know where the concern originated; however, I did manage to convince him that replacement was safe and simple. How simple? Well, simple enough that I had my son do it blindfolded:
Now, obviously removing a single screw and replacing a drop-in battery is about as simple a “repair” job as is possible. Still, it seems that a lot of us have become timid about maintenance of the devices around us. A lot of this comes from the fact that electronics have become so sophisticated that most people don’t have the tools or the necessary information required to service them. Unfortunately, this leads to a disposable-hardware mentality, which is wasteful and unsustainable in the long run. I know that re-use and recycling help a lot, but I’d be a lot happier if some consideration for repair were given during hardware design. I suspect I might as well wish for a herd of ponies or a unicorn though.
Oh well, at least I was able to convince my friend to consider the option of repair in this case. Hopefully the notion will stick and spread to other situations in his life…