While it’s no longer the latest and greatest reader from Amazon the Kindle Voyage continues to deliver incredible value by hitting all the crucial features while sporting a $199 USD price tag. After a month of close to daily use I have to say that it’s everything I wanted in a portable e-reader.
Un-boxing the Kindle Voyage
- 6″ 300 PPI display
- 6 LEDs with adaptive light sensor
- Touchscreen and Page Press
- Word Wise
The Kindle Voyage comes with minimal fluff as there’s nothing inside the box aside from the Voyage itself, a single USB charging cable (adapter sold separately), and a few quick start guides. The lack of accessories and extras might be a bit disappointing given the high price tag but it’s good to know that the device itself embodies a similar approach.
With each new generation of Kindle the same few changes can be expected; slightly smaller physical dimensions, slightly lower weight, and a few extra LED back lights. At a glance the specs don’t really sound groundbreaking, but a few minutes with any device and you’ll see all those little refinements combining into a much improved reading experience.
Word Wise in particular is one example where the definition of complex words is shown in small print above the word in question. It sounds like such a logical thing to have but it’s not until you actually come across an unfamiliar word that you realize how much better life is with such an amazing feature at your disposal.
Kindles have always had a lot of redundancy built in and that’s hasn’t changed with the Voyage, PagePress buttons are present along the two edges of the device to assist navigation in addition to the touchscreen. Even though I’ve lowered the sensitivity of the buttons to the lowest possible setting I still find myself gravitating towards the touch screen, likely a result of daily conditioning interacting with smartphones. I frequently find myself holding the Voyage the way I would a book, it just feels so natural for the thumb to act as the point of interaction for simple page turning.
The screen itself is fantastic and comes with an auto-brightness feature that’s a bit aggressive with the lighting out of the box. The setting can be adjusted such that a lower maximum brightness is in place which allows for much more comfortable reading even when out and about. The uniform distribution of the lighting really allows for the Voyage to be used whatever the environment whether it’s a dimly lit cafe or a park bench on a sunny day.
Overall interaction is pretty snappy but the device tends to struggle under the slightest hint of multi-tasking. Syncing several books at once even with good WiFi causes notable pauses in input recognition, resulting in several inputs being processed in a burst as the Voyage slowly catches up with the workload. I have also noticed a bit of random slow down when reading but I have not been able to replicate the experience consistently.
Nousketch Cover – $15.99 USD
The Voyage is priced at $199 USD and going with one of the official Amazon covers would bring the total cost of ownership closer to the $300 mark. The official and premium covers are priced at $60 and $90 respectively which are a bit too steep for my liking. After a bit of browsing I eventually settled on this Nousketch origami cover and it’s been absolutely fantastic.
To an extent you do get what you pay for and it’s clear that the build quality of the unofficial covers isn’t quite up to par and it’s absolutely fine. Out of the box it’s immediately apparent that there are some inconsistencies in the build with uneven gaps along the edges but the balance of the case is unaffected when folding the origami stand. The issue is further diminished by my preference for holding the Voyage the way I would a book most of the time.
The only real drawback to the case is that the texture of the cover is a top tier dust magnet, which might be a blessing in disguise. It can act as extra motivation to keep living environments dust free and to look more carefully before leaning the Kindle against surfaces in public. It takes a lot of patience and many small pieces of low stick tape to get rid of all this dust so this is another case of prevention being the best cure.
For the budget conscious the Paperwhite is a no brainer as it packs all the basic necessities at an incredibly affordable price of $99 with special offers. It has basic back lights, touch screen interaction, and plenty of battery life for a truly mobile reading experience. The Voyage and Oasis are certainly better devices but not everyone can justify their hefty premium.
After interacting with both the Paperwhite and Voyage in person at local shops I found myself convinced that the Voyage would be worth the extra cost. Despite both devices being advertised with a 300 PPI display there are stark differences between the actual visual experience. The transition to a glass screen as well as the presence of the extra LEDs allows for more uniform lighting and better contrast. The Voyage also offers a cooler image compared to the yellow tint found in the Paperwhite.
The choice is pretty clear then. If you’re on a budget you’ll be very happy with the Paperwhite, but if you have a bit of cash lying around and want a happy medium the Voyage is the clear winner.