Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Portenzo HardBack Cover for Kindle Paperwhite

A few months ago my dog ate my Kindle Paperwhite. The device itself was fine, but the official Amazon leather case protecting it was all chewed up. I trimmed off the jagged edges and kept using it until last week when I decided to replace it with a Portenzo HardBack cover.

Appearance:
Portenzo lets you customize your colors and choose between using hidden magnets, a strap, or both to keep the cover closed. The hidden magnets add an extra $10 to the price, so I opted for the strap.  One good piece of information that wasn't made readily available is that the auto-sleep/wake function works with or without paying for the hidden magnets. The cover looks GOOD; much more like a real book than the official Amazon leather case does. And while the strap is a little slower to remove and replace then the cover would be with magnets instead, it does add a nice bit of contrast to the otherwise blank surface.

Comfort/Usability:
I knew before ordering that the Portenzo case's cover does not lie flat against its back when open (unlike the Amazon leather case that folds back flat). Instead the spine forms the short side of an isosceles triangle when the cover is folded back. I initially thought this might make the Kindle even more pleasant to hold, reminding me of the wedge shape of the first generation Kindle. In practice I find the added thickness unpleasant, and also occasionally frustrating when I forget to stretch my thumb further across the surface before touching for a page turn, and accidentally turn back a page.

Durability:
While I haven't specifically tried to do so, the Portenzo cover seems like it would not scratch or scuff easily. The re-usable adhesive strips that hold the Kindle in place seem to work well.

One problem I've encountered is glue smell. I left my Kindle in a hot car for an hour or two one day, and since then the Portenzo cover has had a strong smell of glue. You wouldn't notice it (without bringing it near to your face) if not for the fact that the glue smell has transferred to my hands on a number of occasions after reading for a while. Since this happened I've also noticed a white line showing up along some of the edges where the inner liner has been (presumably) glued to the outer.

I contacted Portenzo about the smell and what appears to be glue that seeped out in the heat and they asked me to send them a photo of the seepage. Portenzo said they couldn't see anything wrong in the photo and gave me an address to send my cover to to be checked out for possible "repair".  I like Portenzo's design style, and I want to root for the little guy; but Amazon would have sent me a brand new cover if I had a problem with one of theirs and given me a few weeks to send the damaged one back.  I understand it's not a good idea to leave anything in a hot car, but my Amazon case and my Kindle itself (as well as plain old bound books) have survived plenty a day in the heat without any negative side effects.

As of the time this post was written, the abbreviated version of this review has yet to be approved to be included amongst the glowing reviews listed on the Portenzo product page.

UPDATE: I've since noticed that the pressure placed on the Kindle when the cover is closed with the strap actually causes it to come free from most of the adhesive strips.  If the spine were a little narrower this wouldn't be a problem. The Kindle hasn't fallen out upon opening yet, but it's really disappointing to see another area where the Portenzo case has let me down.

Conclusion:
Before the update above, I had previously written that "The Portenzo Hardback Cover for the Kindle Paperwhite is a decent value for the price".  But now I really question its quality as well as the reliability of the reviews posted on the sales page. How many other negative reviews were simply not posted? I still love the way the Portenzo case looks. However, even ignoring the added thickness when folding the cover back behind, the fact that you have to baby this case to stop it from seeping glue, and its design flaws that stop the Kindle from even staying securely attached.... combined they make this a DO NOT BUY.


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