Kindle 2: fragile piece of shit or overpriced fragile piece of shit?

I’ve owned the Amazon Kindle 2 e-book reader for less than a month. Today, I dropped my messenger bag containing the kindle, my laptop, and a variety of other things about a foot onto the street. Nothing else in the bag is damaged even a little — there was so little force in the drop that I probably could have put a wine glass in there and it would have been fine. The kindle shows no visible damage. But the screen no longer functions and Amazon has “generously” offered to replace it for only $200.00.

This replacement decision isn’t obvious because of the power of sunk costs etc., but I can’t recommend anyone else ever buy one. They are way too fragile: I’ve dropped bags containing just about every other piece of flashy electronic equipment I’ve ever owned (many, many), and nothing has ever broken under similar circumstances.

Also, maybe 20% of the books I’ve wanted to buy over the last month have been available for the kindle, and I’ve still bought some of those in dead-tree form because it’s been cheaper to get used versions even with shipping.

Also, the kindle does not preserve the original pagination, making it much less useful for academic stuff. And just try to take notes on the terrible, terrible keyboard. I dare you.


23 Responses to “Kindle 2: fragile piece of shit or overpriced fragile piece of shit?”

  1. Greg Says:

    It doesn’t preserve original pagination? Stop right there. That’s all I needed to hear. It could be made of rice paper and glass and I’d still care more about pagination than durability.

    It’s startling that they’ve so completely ignored the academic market with this thing. Delays on PDF support for the first generation, lack of proper pagination even in the second gen edition. It’s just a toy for carting around recreational reading, which, IMO doesn’t face the portability hurdles that large volumes of academic literature do.

    Sigh. Think they’ll get it right by the 5th gen?

  2. Andrys Says:

    Yes, it is fragile, as are some of the cell phones I’ve dropped, which Motorola would not accept for free servicing.

    Did you have it in a cover? i’ve heard of this happening in a messenger bag when someone didn’t use a cover.

    The other problem is that a laptop will be considerably heavier than the Kindle, which does have a fragile screen though I’ve been lucky with my own drops.

    And if the bag fell with the Kindle below the laptop, that would make it even more vulnerable.

    My empathy on this.
    It can’t be treated as lightly as books and a laptop when in the same bag, so that is a real dilemma as you say.

    The hard cover should help to protect the screen but maybe less so if the laptop was on top of it.

    I agree with you on that keyboard though I do take notes. It is not what I’d call a pleasurable experience though :-) The keys are much too close together and you can’t tell which one you’ve pressed sometimes.

  3. ellen Says:


    that’s really all we need to say

  4. Lee Says:

    Thanks for the review, you just made up my mind! I’ll be waiting for gen 5 then…

  5. Jacob T. Levy Says:

    Ugh. I had been feeling gadget lust for a K2 and starting to give it serious thought. But given that my laptop is (literally) being held together by tape from he number of times I’ve dropped it, that kind of fragility pretty clearly makes the Kindle a non-starter for me.

  6. Arvita Says:

    Hold, it’s within the first 30 days? I thought that you could return it within the first 30…They were using that to drive sales since they don’t have a store.

  7. Uncommon Priors » The Kindle War Begins Says:

    [...] establishing a punitive damages claim for false advertisement requires a 30-day demand first. (Previously. About 3/4 of the way down this page, you can see the drop test video to which I refer.) Paul [...]

  8. Jeanne W Says:

    The original pagination is not preserved because the reader can choose to change the font size at will, making pagination meaningless. With features like search and bookmarks, there’s really no need. Recommend reading the owners’ manual and buying a protective case, and believe me, you’ll never look back. The Kindle 2 is the equiv of Dos to Windows or dial-up to broadband.

  9. Jeff Albert Says:

    Ok, you said it was like Windows, which would usually serve as a warning.

    The pagination issue was brought up in terms of using it for academic research. One can’t properly cite a reference without a proper page number, so pagination is not meaningless in all contexts, and is crucial (read dealkiller) in that particular context.

  10. Epic: Kindle 2 Fails Man’s Drop Test, Forces Amazon To Pay Him $400 [Kindle 2] « Unit1 Says:

    [...] this topic.Powered by WP Greet BoxPaul bought a Kindle 2 from Amazon. He dropped it one day, and it sort of broke but not entirely, and Amazon wanted $200 to replace it. Instead, he got them to send him a $400 [...]

  11. DM Says:

    For what it is worth, I’ve had my K2 since shortly after it came out, and have been very pleased with it.

    As a reader above noted, there is a reason for no pagination: think through the problem conceptually and you will see why not (variable fonts, searching, bookmarks).

    I have it inside a sleeve, though, and that probably helps, although besides that I don’t treat it particularly gently.

  12. Paul Gowder Says:

    They need not preserve the pagination in the conventional sense (i.e. break up the document into discrete pages). All they would need to do for academic purposes is make it possible to find out which printed page a given piece of text is on. And among many other methods, they could do this via the simple expedient of including about 20kb of metadata in each file mapping the numbering system they actually use (location numbers) to page numbers in the original, i.e. “locations 320-29, page 5, locations 330-338, page 6,” plus a menu command to display that info.

  13. Steve M. Says:

    Happy Kindle owner here, though I actually like to read the books on my iPhone, too. I think I’d prefer they do something like West’s star pagination, only with slashes or the like, e.g., “/23/” wherever there’s a page break.

  14. Steve M. Says:

    N.B. — the best thing about star pagination is that nobody ever writes “*25″, so you can just search for that.

  15. Epic: Kindle 2 Fails Man’s Drop Test, Forces Amazon To Pay Him $400 [Kindle 2] | thatWhat! Says:

    [...] bought a Kindle 2 from Amazon. He dropped it one day, and it sort of broke but not entirely, and Amazon wanted $200 to replace it. Instead, he got them to send him a $400 [...]

  16. Ray Says:

    Agree. I dropped mine yesterday on the floor while I was sitting. The Kindle landed flush with the floor so it wasn’t like it hit a corner or anything. The screen is shot. Amazon is of no use.

    So I agree, the thing is an absolute piece of shite. I won’t be purchasing another and I can only hope that the word gets out to unwary customers just what a fragile ill-conceived idea this is.

    I’ll wait and save my $ for an iPad.

  17. Ocbizlaw Says:

    I really wanted a Kindle but I can’t find three reviews in a row without reading some nightmare about the screen breaking, multiple failures experienced after flying, systems or screens freezing, etc., always accompanied by a horror story about Amazon customer service to the point that now I’m afraid to buy any device from Amazon. Sounds like I’d be better off buying $400 worth of raw eggs and carrying them around in a plastic garbage bag. I’m going to the Apple store and look at the iPad tomorrow.

  18. mary Says:

    just dropped k2, in leather case, broke the glass in the corner, still readable except battery display. Keyboard sucks. But i LOVE my kindle! and amazon has been pretty cool. They have so many classics for practically free, awesome! I will buy another when i need to, but for now i will be extra cautious!

  19. Sharyl Says:

    It is possibly the most overated piece if shit I have ever had the misfortune to even touch. I hate it with a passion

  20. heeso Says:

    my God, i meant you were going to chip in with some important insight at the end there, not leave it with we leave it to you to decide.

  21. Armanger Says:

    Bought one today from best buy, really dont like the thing, its kind of cheap and not very good. I did love the E-Ink screen, but its got some really terrible screen glitches and flashing etc. The USB connector (charger) is cheap junk. Ended up throwing the Kindle n the garbage, a useless piece of Chinese junk. Oh well, live and learn.

  22. UJ Says:

    So….can my Kindle’s screen be repaired somehow (at something less than the original unit cost), or is it now a useless piece of trash? Grrrr.

  23. b Says:

    1st kindle power button bad, 2nd kindle barely jostled screen lines , 3rd kindle 3g went bad 4th kindle screen went bad, barely jostled, 5th kindle combination power button power supply problem affecting keyboard otherwise works perfect, so now they offer me 85 percent back, i say no give me another kindle so im waiting for #6, meanwhile i cant read my books while i wait another 2 days.

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