Amazon is offering a refund for its leather Kindle case without claiming responsibility, but an enterprising engineer has figured out why his Kindle crashes.
It doesn’t seem to make sense that a leather case could cause an electronic device to malfunction. The strange thing is that the official case for the latest version of the Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader with a light attached to it doesn’t cause any problems for users. But many people who have the case without a light have complained that the device will freeze or constantly reboot. Removing the case stopped the problem, which confused people even further. Amazon didn’t admit that there was a problem in design or execution but was still offering refunds saying that “our engineering team is looking into this.” That is unnecessary, because Alex Gizis, CEO of Connectify, was able to figure out that the problem lay in the metal hooks that hold onto the Kindle device.
Most people, myself included, would just toss away a device that isn’t working properly. But not Gizis. “It didn’t seem to make a lot of sense that a leather cover would crash an electronic device, so I got curious and started to look closely at my Kindle’s case,” he wrote on his Connectify blog.
The lit case which retails for $59.99 uses gold hooks which supply power to the light bulb so that you can read on the go. Gizis figured out that the non-lit case uses two black painted hooks to attach the Kindle to the leather case. At first, these hooks conduct no electricity because the paint blocks it but as the case sees more wear and tear, the paint starts to chip off. And because this is where the light would get its electricity from, Gizis made the leap in logic that maybe it’s siphoning off power from the device, causing all of the power downs and headaches.
“So out came the handy-dandy Radio Shack multimeter, set to measure resistance,” said Gizis. “Depending on your contact you can see some pretty low values, which imply a pretty good connection between the two. This is why the Kindle crashes. Once a bit of paint has rubbed off the hooks, power starts flowing through the cover, leading to brownouts; the CPU does not get enough juice to operate properly and ends out either hung or rebooting!”