Could An Airport Scanner Ruin Your Kindle?

    November 21, 2011
    Josh Wolford

Apparently, you should be careful this holiday season when you travel with your Kindle. According to reports from users, something is ruining their electronic ink displays when they pass through security.

The Telegraph claims that multiple users have reported their devices going wonky after passing through the X-ray scanners at airports. One such user said that after his Kindle took a ride through a scanner in Madrid, the display was permanently affected. He said that he was using the e-reader to read a book just before this, so it has to be the scanner.

Could X-rays be damaging Amazon’s Kindle e-ink displays?

According to a Cambridge professor quoted in the report, probably not. He says that a build up of static electricity could actually be what’s messing with the Kindles. He says that the low level of radiation used in airport scanners is unlikely to be able to cause the type of damage that people are reporting.

Here’s what Professer Daping Chu had to say:

But you 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. A static charge from an airport scanner could be 100 volts or more. That could permanently stick the particles to the screen.

It shouldn’t surprise you that Amazon has denied these allegations. They claim that the X-ray scanner machines pose no threat to their e-readers.

Exposing your Kindle to an X-ray machine, such as those used by airport security, should not cause and problems with it. Many Kindle users travel by air, and their Kindles are screened by airport security every day without issue.

That’s true. This is the first we’ve really heard of anything like this and the e-ink displays have been in use for quite some time. It’s possible that people’s bags could protect the devices. Maybe the people reporting problems put their Kindle directly on the belt.

The users claim that Amazon is quietly replacing the Kindles that are being damaged.

Could there be a Kindle-killer out there in one of the most popular places to take a Kindle? It looks like it’s at least a possibility. One would think that if this were 100% accurate, there would be more stories about this happening than we’d know what to do with. But if I had a Kindle, I’d probably proceed with caution next time I’m flying.

Has anything like this happened to you? Let us know in the comments.