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Kindles and camping revisited

mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,406
edited March 2013 in Tour & expedition
I started a thread last year asking for advice on battery life and recharging for a Kindle on extending camping touring holidays. I got some useful advice and replies. Here's my follow-up.

The weight-saving, the convenience of carrying a huge library with me and and the ability to download books from my tent via 3G were great. Recharging the Kindle in the toilet blocks of empty campsites was easy. And I had for back-up a tiny Oyama portable power bank bought cheaply from Maplins which I could also charge up in the toilet block and had enough power to three-quarter charge the Kindle. Never needed to use it. I like the Kindle reading experience and it's convenient being able to read lying down and not having to turn over pages.

But the reliability of our Kindle (a keyboard 3G and Wi-Fi model) has been poor. On my first trip early last summer - a three-week ride across France - I lost half the display after a week. The top half of the screen showed characters, the bottom half was just grey. I managed to continue reading by making the print as small a possible, reading half the page and then tapping "blind" at the control keys to rotate the screen view so I could read the bottom half that had been greyed out. A right hassle.

That Kindle was replaced under warranty, The second Kindle broke down after a couple of months. It kept freezing and would not start up despite doing resets. That was replaced under warranty. The third Kindle arrived but we could not get that to work at all and that was replaced immediately, with lots of apologies from Amazon. All this involved sometimes quite lengthy phone calls to Kindle support when experts talked us through various possible fixes.

Now today our fourth Kindle has frozen up and cannot be reset. Kindle support say it's probably irreparable. But I'll have to wait until my wife comes home for final resolution as it's registered in her name.

I saw a piece on BBC Watchdog some months back about the unreliability of Kindles. Lots of unhappy customers. I don't know whether the newer touchscreen models are better. At one stage during the replacement process, Kindle support did offer us the basic touchscreen version at a slightly reduced price. Does anyone know if these newer models are better?

Posts

  • andymillerandymiller Posts: 2,856
    Sorry to hear about your problems with the Kindles. If anyone is thinking about buying an eReader it's worth bearing in mind that other brands are available:

    http://www.sony.co.uk/hub/ebook-reader

    http://www.kobo.com/ereaders

    I've been very happy with the reliability of my Sony - but these are more expensive than Kindles - I don't know about the Kobo readers' reliability but there prices seem to be reasonable and their online bookshop service is very good.

    These days, you could argue that small tablets are a better alternative (or at least more flexible) - depending on how important battery life and the ability to reader them in day light are concerned.
  • tim_wandtim_wand Posts: 2,552
    I ve got the basic version which cost £69 just before Xmas, goes everywhere with me, even survived my daughter putting all her wet swimming kit on top of it in the bag, and has never missed a beat.
  • danlikesbikesdanlikesbikes Posts: 3,898
    Had mine for 2 years (was a christmas present) and the other half I bought for her about 3 years ago & never had any issues with it.

    Mine gets stuffed in the sports bag, backpack & even when feeling like a hipster in my musette on the way to starbucks.

    Guess it depends on what case you use though as our cases are both solid on both sides & have plastic corners to the sides can not crush easily.
    Pain hurts much less if its topped off with beating your mates to top of a climb.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,406
    My wife has just finished a long session on the phone with Kindle support. As I feared, it's broken. So they are sending us yet another replacement. That makes five Kindles in exactly a year - one original and four replacements. It's certainly not a case of mistreatment. We look after the things really carefully, particularly since the first one broke, and keep it in a padded bag.

    Kindle support say they no longer make the keyboard model because "technology has advanced" but you can only get like-for-like replacement under warranty. I suspect our replacements could be broken Kindles which have been returned and which Amazon engineers have then got going again. Maybe the keyboard 3G model has intrinsic faults. No-one we know with Kindles has had problems - but then none of them has the same model as us.
  • andrew_sandrew_s Posts: 2,511
    Mercia Man wrote:
    We look after the things really carefully, particularly since the first one broke, and keep it in a padded bag.
    Padding on its own is unlikely to be adequate. You'll want something reasonably rigid across the screen so something pushing in the middle of the screen won't crack it.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,406
    andrew_s wrote:
    Mercia Man wrote:
    We look after the things really carefully, particularly since the first one broke, and keep it in a padded bag.
    Padding on its own is unlikely to be adequate. You'll want something reasonably rigid across the screen so something pushing in the middle of the screen won't crack it.

    It's kept at home in a padded Alpkit bag inside a plastic sandwich box. I use the padded bag alone when I take it on camping trips and always make sure to put it in the tent's side pocket at night. The faults are certainly nothing to do with storage or rough treatment. I've never squashed the Kindle or had any issue with a cracked or damaged screen. We look after our Kindle much more carefully than other people we know who have them. It's an internal electronic problem. The Kindle freezes up and will not restart. Judging by complaints on other forums, I'm not the only one to suffer this sort of unreliability.
  • andrew_sandrew_s Posts: 2,511
    I lost half the display after a week. The top half of the screen showed characters, the bottom half was just grey
    Sounds like physical damage to me, even if you couldn't see anything.
    I wouldn't take anything with a screen the size of a kindle without taking care to pack it so the screen was against something flat and rigid, be that a hard case, a piece of perspex, or the back of a pannier.

    I agree that the others sound like electronics/software.
    If you use a kindle just for touring, it may be a battery problem
    http://blog.laptopmag.com/kindle-critical-battery-error
  • I have had a Kindle 3g with keyboard and not had any problems, although I have taken it on several backpacking trips. Apparently, Kindle screens don't like being flexed. However, sounds as though you may just have been unlucky.
  • mercia_manmercia_man Posts: 1,406
    I have had a Kindle 3g with keyboard and not had any problems, although I have taken it on several backpacking trips. Apparently, Kindle screens don't like being flexed. However, sounds as though you may just have been unlucky.

    I'm sure I've just been unlucky. My Kindles have never been dropped, flexed or had water on them. The only possible thing I could think of for the first failure was whether I fell asleep while reading in my sleeping bag and rolled onto it. I don't know whether I did or not. The subsequent freezing up problems have all happened at home. The usual pattern was the Kindle was switched off at night and we would wake up to find it had tried to restart of its own accord and was frozen on the start-up display.

    I love the convenience and user experience of the Kindle but five devices in a year has certainly been enough to shake my confidence in taking them as my only reading source on a camping holiday. Kindle support gets top marks in trying to fix them over the phone and then speedily replacing them. However, we are now past the one year mark so we won't get the automatic replacements if our fifth Kindle breaks.

    I've done a fair bit of investigating on Kindle forums and both my problems - first losing half the screen display and then the repeated issue of the device freezing up - would appear to be pretty common.
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