Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Oh, Crap! I Broke The Screen On My Kindle!

I always carry a Kindle Keyboard when I'm traveling with Westly.  In addition to my choice of several books to read, I have some reference materiels stored on it.  And anywhere there is wi-fi or a 3G signal I can get online if I need to.  Yes, it's a very cumbersome online experience but it works in a pinch.  But a couple of months ago I dropped it and broke the screen.  Here's the text of the Amazon review I posted for the purchase of the replacement screen.  If you have a Kindle around with a cracked screen, you might want to try this.  It was really pretty easy to replace.  

This is how the screen looked after dropping the Kindle
Strange how the image stays there even long after it's been removed from the device

This review is from: Original New 100% Amazon Kindle 3 3rd generation K3 Kindle keyboard D00901 ebook ereader Screen repair Replacement part E-ink LCD display panel ED060SC7 (LF) (Electronics)

So I dropped my Kindle Keyboard on the bus and I was like, "oh crap!" cause it was the third time I had dropped it so the screen already had a few bad spots that I could still read around, but this time half the screen had vertical lines and another quarter section had horizontal lines so it was toast. I'm not really a total klutz, I was just balancing it on the steering wheel (did I mention I'm a bus driver?) while eating a wrap (on my break, not while driving! so chill...) and it usually worked, except for those few times when it evidently felt some compunction to obey the immutable law of gravity. And I was on the final chapter of a great read so then I had to wait until I got home to finish it on Cloud Reader.

Anyway it was out of warranty and I didn't want to just pitch it so I checked out options and found some YouTube videos about fixing the problem which led me to this replacement screen. I've taken apart a few personal electronic devices before, but usually just to see how they work, without any real intention of ever getting the things back together again. I had some misgivings, directly related to comments in the videos such as "If you put any pressure on the corner of the screen while you are replacing it, it will shatter into a thousand pieces". So, I added it to my Wish List and waited a few days. Then one morning I needed to order some new ear rings and thought to myself " Ahh, what the heck!", added it to my cart in a burst of over-confidence, and checked out before I could change my mind.

It took a few weeks to arrive as it ships from China. I set the compact little package on the mantle of my imitation (but amazingly realistic) flame fireplace and there it sat gathering dust. It was somewhat useful though, because I propped it up to shade my lucky bamboo from getting too much direct sun. Anyway after a few weeks I was beginning to get annoyed with carrying around several bound books (I often read a few titles concurrently) and realized how much I missed my Kindle so I gathered my courage and dove in.

I pried open the case (I had seen how that works already because it popped off all on it's own one time when I dropped it) and began removing the first of about 100 (mild exaggeration) tiny screws with a tiny screwdriver. A good pair of tweezers, like what you might use to pluck your unibrow also comes in handy. A couple of the screws have little washer like things underneath also, so I noted where these went. I laid the screws out on my desk in a pattern like where they came out of the circuit board. They are all pretty much the same size. I took out the battery first, then another little black box thing, then the remaining screws from various positions around the circuit board, some cleverly hidden from view. You have to pry off a miniscule ribbon connecter - careful here! Once the circuit board was loose, I lifted it on one end and pushed gently up from the front of the screen (on the outside) to release it from a strip of sticky tape that holds it into place. When it was out, I could look at the back and see just how much damage I had inflicted. There were actually three "daises" from which multiple cracks radiated in all directions over most of the screen.

I carefully removed the new screen from yards of bubble wrap, removed the protective film, compared the two to insure it was an identical replacement and VERY CAREFULLY placed the new screen into the frame. I reattached the miniscule ribbon connecter, seated the circuit board (making sure all the little switches around the outside were in place and not binding) then returned all the screws. Once the battery was back in, but before replacing the back cover, I turned it on and was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked almost perfectly! Almost, because while the screen image was faultless, the page up/down buttons on the right side were no longer working. I poked around and discovered another micro ribbon connecter that was slightly dislodged. I gingerly pushed it into place using the unibrow pluckers, and then all was well. I snapped the back case in place and it was done! The entire operation took about one hour (your mileage may vary).

In the meantime, I had also ordered a sturdy leather case and a sheet of screen protecter film so I put these in place and now hopefully won't have to go through this trial again.

Here's the concise version of the review - I felt the price was reasonable. The shipper clearly communicated the time frame in which it would be shipped and likely arrive and it did arrive right on schedule. It was packaged very well and arrived in perfect condition. It was the exact replacement, and it works beautifully. I'm glad I tried it, and am elated to have my Kindle working again.

So should YOU try it? While there are some risks involved (cracking the new screen, shorting or otherwise damaging the circuit board or other tiny components in the case) the screen is much less expensive than buying a new device. And replacing it yourself saves you a hundred or so dollars over having some repair shop do it. If you are comfortable working with this kind of repair, try it because it's really not that complicated. But, if you've never done anything like this before, you might not want this to be your first attempt.