I know that I'm fortunate to have a job where I get to test, play with, and write about gadgets and gizmos galore — believe me, I'm very grateful to be in this position! But most of the devices I use are only in use for a short amount of time before they have to be either returned or are replaced by the next version to review. However, if you were to take a look at the products that I've purchased for myself, you'd see many older, beat up devices that have faithfully served me for many years. But what might surprise you is the manufacturer for some of my favorite devices that have had the longest lifespans. It's not Apple, Google/Nest, or Samsung, but rather Amazon whose devices have proven the most durable and have stood up to the Johnson family household.
We cover a lot of Amazon devices on this website, from e-readers to tablets, to smart speakers, to wearables and more, and by far and away the biggest "pro" that we cite for them is that they are affordable. Well, not so much affordable as cheap. It's important to point out that cheap, in this case, is a literal characteristic and does not necessarily come burdened with its negative connotations of shoddy craftsmanship. Quite the contrary, actually. For most of the Amazon devices that I have reviewed or owned, the cheap cost of the product combined with its durability has resulted in some really fantastic values that I've been more than willing to recommend to friends, family, and you, dear readers.
I could rattle off a handful of stories about devices that have lasted much longer than I expected them to, like my beloved 1More Colorbuds. Still, a couple of my favorite long-lasting devices are two that I use almost more than any other — my 7th generation Kindle Paperwhite and my 1st generation Echo speaker.
As you may be able to detect from the photos above, my Kindle Paperwhite has seen some sh**. I've dropped this six-year-old e-reader on our hard tile floor more times than I care to admit (to the point where something is rattling inside, but heck if I know what it is). It happened so many times that I finally heeded my colleague Ara Wagoner's advice and just put a dang PopSocket on the back, and that worked like a charm!
I also made the questionable decision to let my then elementary school-aged son take it in his backpack to school for reading time for the better part of a semester. He dutifully lugged it back and forth each day, unceremoniously wedged between his spiral notebooks and supplies (hence, all the scratches). At one point, the pressure from the stuffed backpack even did something to the screen to damage a few pixels. But you know what? The Kindle is still kicking, and I read from it nearly every day. I honestly can't bring myself to part with it since it has been there for me this long. It would be like shooting an old friend!
The other device that has stood steadfast with me since I first got it over six years ago is my original, Prime member-only 1st generation Echo speaker. Believe it or not, this Alexa cylinder has survived a few bumps and bruises of its own (again, courtesy of my young son), and it has a few minor scratches to show for it (as well as some wall paint from the fall). But it still occupies a prominent place in our living room and is our default Echo speaker in a house with around (nine?) Echos. Yes, I had to take a minute to count them. It's not the best-sounding speaker in my home; heck, it's not even the best-sounding Echo speaker in my home. But it still works just as well as it did when I first bought it. Actually, scratch that. Thanks to Amazon's updates, it works even better!
Amazon Fire tablet durability commercials
I've owned a half-dozen or so Fire tablets over the years, and except for one that fell face-first off the banister 25+ feet to the ground, they've all survived admirably as well. In fact, I remember several years ago a series of Amazon commercials for the company's Fire tablets that feature the devices being dropped down the stairs or rolled off the roof of a car by unwitting owners. There was even one where Amazon showed how the tablets undergo extensive drop-testing at the factory. Like many, I assumed this was hyperbole, but after dropping my own Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers many times, I can attest to the strength of these claims and these devices.
My main point for sharing these stories with you all is that a device's price isn't always indicative of its value. When you're considering future purchases (and tech purchases in particular), consider reviews and accounts of durability, longevity, and hardware/software support. I think when you do, you'll be pleasantly surprised by just how good Amazon's "cheap" devices really are.
What about you? Which brands have you had the best experience with in terms of durability, support, and longevity? Let us know in the comments!
Jeramy is proud to help *Keep Austin Weird* and loves hiking in the hill country of central Texas with a breakfast taco in each hand. When he's not writing about smart home gadgets and wearables, he's defending his relationship with his smart voice assistants to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @jeramyutgw.
I agree with the outside durability, but I have could of Fire Tablets where the Micro USB port has stopped working, so I can no longer charge them. My replacement 8" tablet is has the wireless changing case on it so I don't have that issue, and the 10" is USB C which is much better.
That's my complaint. The micro USB would break on all of the kindles between my wife and my kids. Got a drawer full of them that don't work, and it's cheaper to get a new one than to repair.
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