Sunday, April 19, 2009

Kindle 2 screen and the direct-sunlight test

The E Ink screen's positive points include the unusual feature of being "an image stable reflective display technology that uses ultra-low power but is easily read under any lighting condition including direct sunlight." Amazon points to that feature on its main Kindle page in the "Enhanced Reading" section.

Over the last 2 months, as noted here and by some online stories, some customers have experienced problems with what they describe as a lack of sufficient contrast between the Kindle 2's somewhat lighter and thinner font and its sometimes darker gray screen -- a gray against gray for some.  As I've said, my own screen is very readable and crisp but the somewhat fainter and thinner font used as a basic default is not as easy to read for prolonged periods, as was possible with the Kindle 1.  My screen is similar to my Kindle 1's, a light gray, which is pleasant.  For me, it also features a wispy, lighter font that can be harder to read in some light, but otherwise I'm happy with mine, since the display is sharp.

At the same time, customers in forums have helped one another by asking those with problems to take their Kindles into direct sunlight and hold it there for a minute or so, and to try a page turn with it while doing so.  As with the Kindle 1, some units don't do well in direct sunlight, showing fading of fonts.  Any such unit would be a defective one, which Amazon customer reps now recognize, and they will replace such units honoring the basic warranty with a 1-day shipment of another boxed Kindle 2.  This has made a difference for those whose problems had more to do with something in the circuitry of some units.

"sylar," in the "Amazon's 'Official' Response" topic discussion, writes:
'The official word from amazon cs was that faulty e-ink receptors in some of the first batch of kindle 2's were the source of the problem.  It is a defect and the k2 is not supposed to do this so for those of you who haven't tested your device in sunlight you might want to look into it.'
Now, this is apparently a personal report from a conversation with a customer service representative, but it's not likely that the customer thought up the "faulty e-ink receptors" explanation for what seems to have happened in the first batch of Kindle 2s.

So, those who have been unhappy with having to refresh their Kindle 2s with the alt-g key combination that will remove occasional ghosting as well as make the e-ink characters darker temporarily (as if more ink was filling in the characters at the top of the glass) may want to test their units out in direct sunlight.  Here are some photo-comparison examples plus an added example and the most egregious one. Below are ways to Share this post if you'd like others to see it.
-- The Send to Kindle button works well only on Firefox currently.

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(Older posts have older Kindle model info. For latest models, see CURRENT KINDLES page. )
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