Sometimes, when you buy an expensive piece of consumer electronics, something happens to take the shine off it. Dead pixels certainly come under that heading. Ostensibly a difficult-to-avoid manufacturing risk specific to LCD screens, dead pixels are just that: pixels which don't work. They can be quite frustrating.
Most of the time you don't notice them, but somehow once you do your eyes are drawn to them. We're staring at ours right now. Molly-molly-molly-mole! Worse, we once bought a laptop from a well-known mail order firm which had a pair of them about three-fingers width apart, only to be told that screens with less than a handful didn't qualify for replacement. Happy days.
Fortunately though it seems that consumers who pick up the Nintendo DS handheld, released in the US on November 21st, won't have to put up with the problem to any degree - despite a number of reports of dead pixels from early adopters. In a statement issued soon after the problem came to light, Nintendo offered to inspect and even fix the problem at no cost as long as the machine is returned within the one-year warranty period.
"With a small number of Nintendo DS screens, one or two dots on the screen may appear to be 'stuck' on a particular color, such as white or red. This effect is caused when a particular pixel (the dots that make up the screen) is not working properly, even with the high quality standards set by LCD manufacturers. You will find this situation is common in many LCD devices, (PC monitors, televisions, cell phones, etc.)
"It's important to understand that this issue will remain limited to the pixels you have already noticed. The problem will not get any worse and you should not expect to see the problem in any other areas of the screen.
"We suggest that you use your system for a few weeks to determine whether this interferes with your enjoyment of game play. If, after using your system for awhile, you feel that this tiny dot is too distracting, the Nintendo DS does carry a one-year warranty. We are happy to inspect and, if necessary, fix your system at no charge within the warranty period."
We'd expect this to apply worldwide, naturally, which is good news for anybody considering a DS purchase when the system lands in Europe next spring. It'll be a bit trickier for those of you importing from the US or Japan, but we wouldn't be too surprised if some of our more highly regarded import contacts started vetting units before they were sent out. They're good like that. We'll let you know.