Monday, November 21, 2011

Can airport X-ray scanners break electronic ink Kindles? It's uncertain.

Shawn Rossi shared something that led me to a widely-read Telegraph article entitled "Amazon Kindles 'damaged by airport scanners.'" Christopher Williams quotes some anecdotal evidence, and then quotes a statement from Professor Daping Chu of the University of Cambridge. Professor Chu said, in part:

[Y]ou can get a build up of static inside these machines, caused by the rubber belt rubbing. If that charge were to pass through a Kindle, it’s conceivable that it could damage the screen.

Apparently this only affects "electronic ink" screens, and doesn't affect the LCD screens used by other devices. But Amazon says that it doesn't happen at all (although the Telegraph notes that Amazon has replaced some devices):

Exposing your Kindle to an X-ray machine, such as those used by airport security, should not cause and problems with it.

This is not a new issue - I found a May 2009 report of a similar issue. Incidentally, the fact that an Amazon customer service rep stated in 2009 that X-rays could be a cause of the failure doesn't mean much to me - individual reps can say all sorts of things.
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