Product Type: Amazon PC accessories
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Can Amazon Re-cover the Kindle?
Kindle Leather Cover
Member Name: Hishyeness
Kindle Leather Cover
Date: 10/03/11, updated on 10/03/11 (177 review reads)
Advantages: Exceptional quality, look, feel and design.
Disadvantages: A bit pricey. Clip issue is a fundamental flaw until fixed.
Having dropped a number of not-so-subtle hints to my wife in the run-up to Christmas, it was almost inevitable that I would get a much desired 3G capable Amazon Kindle as a present. The additional gift of an official black leather Amazon cover from my in-laws was a very nice surprise. I could think of no better way to dress up this impressive e-Reader, but would have been very reluctant to spend the eye-watering £29.99 asking price myself. Amazon also do a cover with an integrated light (£50.99). This is a review of the non-lighted version (DooYoo lump both in the same category).
LOOK & FEEL
The cover comes in a well protected cardboard box with a set of pictorial fitting instructions. The first thing that hits you is the distinctive, earthy new leather smell. There is nothing quite like it, and even after almost three months of ownership, it still has it. The cover is tightly stitched, and the dimpled "pebble-grained" black leather provides a firm and tactile grip. The outside back cover features an elasticated black band with a small leather tab (discreetly embossed with "Amazon Kindle" on both sides). The band fits into a groove on the front cover, providing a secure, but easy to use closing mechanism. To open, you simply lift the tab to pull the elastic out of the groove. The cover can be bought in seven different colours - black, chocolate brown, burnt orange, burgundy red, steel blue, apple green and hot pink.
The inside of the cover is lined with dark charcoal-grey microfibre, which more than adequately protects the Kindle screen and case from scratches and scuffs. Just off the spine of the cover, on the back panel, are a pair of black metal clips which are used to secure the Kindle into place. The bottom clip is fixed, but the top one is spring-loaded. You simply fit the bottom clip into the slot provided on the Kindle, push the top spring-loaded clip down until it engages in the top slot, and then let go. The mechanism is very simple, but the amount of tension in the clip is well thought out and keeps the Kindle secured in place.
The cover is only about a centimetre wider than the Kindle itself, but it doubles the overall thickness of the device. However the trade-off seems well worth it, especially given that it is still quite lightweight with the cover on. The only minor complaint, from a functional point of view, is that the leather spine is a little too stiff to allow the cover to be folded back comfortably on itself. This is not unlike how you would read a hard-cover book, so it's not really a big problem. However, it is marketed as being capable of being folded like that, so I would have expected a bit more "give". Otherwise, on external appearances alone, the product exudes quality and appears to be a more than worthy companion to the Kindle. The only real issue appears to be whether it represents value for money at the RRP.
BOOTS & RE-BOOTS
For the first few weeks, I used the Kindle without a problem. However, out of the blue, it started doing strange things. It would lose the page I was on, inexplicably freeze, randomly reboot, rapidly drain power, or fail to turn on, requiring a hard re-boot to get going again. Naturally, I was disappointed, so I followed up with Amazon, who suggested a software upgrade to the latest version. This seemed to make the Kindle more stable, but again, after a few days, the old problems came back. I assumed the problem was a faulty Kindle, and decided on a little web research before taking the draconian step of returning it for a replacement.
To my surprise, after a little digging, I found many people were having the same issue - and the one thing they had in common was a non-lighted official Amazon Kindle cover. A rumour was circulating that the metal clips used to secure the Kindle to the cover were causing some kind of static interference, causing the Kindle to exhibit the symptoms described. It seemed counter-intuitive and faintly ridiculous, but the obvious thing to do was to take off the cover and see if the problems still persisted. I was surprised when they didn't. The Kindle operated hitch-free for over two weeks, yet, as soon as I put the cover back on, the issues returned within hours.
At this point, articles started appearing in the US technical press about the issue, along with the welcome news that Amazon.com - in the USA at least - were offering instant refunds to affected customers. Not only that, but they were issuing promotional vouchers so you could upgrade to the official lighted version for free, which apparently does not suffer from the same problem. As such, I contacted Kindle support, explained the issue, and was delighted when their customer representative confirmed that Amazon were operating the same policy in the UK. I was told to dispose of my original cover, a voucher was added to my account, an e-mail link was sent for the replacement product, and I ordered it. The whole process, from initial call to confirmation of order took less than five minutes. The lighted cover arrived the next day, and I've been using it without any hint of a problem for almost three weeks now.
Unsurprisingly, the non-lighted version of the official Amazon Kindle is no longer being sold via the web-site. It doesn't seem like they've hit the second-hand market yet - probably down to Amazon's very generous replacement policy. That said, I am disappointed that Amazon have - as yet - not publicly admitted there is a problem, so have not advertised it, or issued a recall, preferring to deal with it on a complaint by complaint basis.
Rating this product is difficult. From a quality and build point of view, it's exceptional, but given its fundamental purpose is to cover a Kindle (it can't be used with anything else) the problem with the clips makes it a practically useless, but rather nice smelling and swanky looking bit of leather. It is very unlikely that Amazon will sell this version again until this curious issue is sorted out, but when it does re-appear, you should - hopefully - be able to buy with confidence. At £29.99 you'd certainly hope they'd get it right second time, because this otherwise high quality product is a perfect, bespoke companion to the Kindle, and deserves to do well. In the meantime, if you still have one, get on to Amazon for a replacement.
Not recommended - at least until clip issue is fixed - after which, recommended highly.
© Hishyeness 2011
Summary: A perfect companion to the Kindle, but as of March 2011, ruined by a serious technical issue.