Amazon Kindle Voyage review: One of the best e-readers gets a nice discount today only
Dedicated E-Ink based e-reader have been under threat of extinction in recent years, as tablets eat away at their market share, but plenty of bookworms still love the clarity of screen and long battery life. The Amazon Kindle Voyage seems to be a recognition of that fact, and instead of squeezing prices, as the company has done with its Fire tablets, the Voyage takes the Amazon’s ebook reader range upmarket.
At £169, the Wi-Fi-only version of the Voyage is £70 more expensive than last year’s Kindle Paperwhite, and the 3G version is even more costly – a wallet-busting £229.
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Kindle Voyage review: what’s so special?
If you’re wondering what you get for such a hefty outlay, the answer is simple. This is Amazon’s best ebook reader yet, offering a number of improvements over the company’s previous flagship ebook reader, the Kindle Paperwhite (which remains on sale).
The Amazon Kindle Voyage is 1.5mm slimmer, 7mm shorter and 2mm narrower across than the Paperwhite, and the Wi-Fi version weighs 26g less. It looks dramatically different, too, adopting a similar design to the company’s HDX range of tablets, with faceted panels on the rear and a two-tone gloss-black/matte-black finish. Unfortunately, the Amazon Kindle Voyage also has the same rear-mounted, indented power button as its tablet cousins – if there’s one thing we really dislike about this, it’s having to fumble around at the rear to switch it on.
The Kindle Voyage’s new, improved “Carta” E-Ink display is much more impressive. It measures 6in across the diagonal, offers 16-shade greyscale, a resolution of 1,080 x 1,430 and a pixel density of 300ppi. As a result, it’s sharper than the older model, meaning it’s now impossible to see the pixels at the edges of text characters (although you had to look pretty hard before).
Contrast remains excellent, but the Voyage’s light is much brighter than the Paperwhite’s. Amazon says it’s 39% brighter at the maximum setting, a claim we wouldn’t dispute: set the two readers next to each other and the difference is obvious. It’s also much whiter in colour, enabling the new reader to simulate print on paper more effectively than ever – and Amazon has added an ambient light sensor, so you don’t have to keep adjusting the brightness manually.
The new panel isn’t the only thing that’s different about the Amazon Kindle Voyage’s screen. As with the Paperwhite, it’s a capacitive touchscreen, but here it sits flush with the bezels surrounding it. This gives the Voyage a slightly cleaner look, and although we noticed only a small difference in responsiveness, page flicks are easier to achieve, since you can now swipe smoothly from the edge of the reader directly onto the page itself. The glass covering the screen has a slightly silkier texture this time around, too.
The Voyage also sees the welcome return of page-turn buttons to Amazon’s flagship ebook reader – but these are no ordinary physical buttons. They’re pressure-sensitive zones that sit flush with the surface of the bezel, marked by a long and a dot; push gently down on one and the page turns, accompanied by a light vibration. It’s a nice touch, but even if you don’t like them, it’s not a problem: the “PagePress” buttons can be disabled or adjusted so the vibration is less intrusive.
Almost the only area where the Voyage hardware hasn’t taken a step forwards is battery life. Amazon rates it at up to six weeks (reading 30 minutes per day with the light set to 10 – which is just below mid-brightness), while the Paperwhite is rated at eight weeks. That’s a mild disappointment, but certainly no deal breaker.
Kindle Voyage review: software and ecosystem
Amazon hasn’t only been working at creating the best ever ebook reader hardware – the software upon which it is based has been upgraded as well. We particularly like the new child-friendly FreeTime system, which allows you set up different profiles for your little ones, complete with a different set of books for each. It even allows you to set daily reading goals if you wish.
Once FreeTime mode is activated, a password is required to exit, and access to the Kindle book store and the reader’s “experimental browser” are blocked, so you can be confident that your six-year-old won’t end up costing you a fortune in unwanted purchases.
It should also be remembered that, although the Voyage’s software ecosystem remains as closed as ever (you can’t easily read books that you’ve bought from, say, the Kobo store or a WHSmith ebook), the selection of titles on the Amazon store remains second to none. And if you do have a library of ebooks you want to transfer across in PDF or MOBI format, there’s a generous 4GB of built-in storage.
Finally, in keeping with the premium ethos surrounding the Amazon Kindle Voyage, there’s a new ‘Origami’ case to go with it, costing £40 (or £55 for the leather version). This clips magnetically to the rear of the Voyage and has a dual-purpose cover that flips over to protect the screen, and ingeniously folds up to double as a stand.
It’s a top quality accessory, it fits beautifully well, and lends a luxury feel to the Voyage – with this encasing the Voyage you’ll never be worried about the screen getting scratched in your bag.
On the flip side, the Origami case does add quite a bit of bulk to the Voyage, and with the flap folded back it feels a little awkward in the hand, slipping around against the rear of the reader. As a result, you’d probably be better off with a simpler, third party folio case, and you’ll save some cash as well.
Kindle Voyage review: verdict
The Amazon Voyage is a fantastic ebook reader, make no mistake. It’s more refined than the company’s previous best, the Kindle Paperwhite; the screen is better than ever; and it’s packed with luxury touches such as those page-turn controls. If you love your reading, and only an E-Ink device will do, there’s nothing else to match it.
For most, though, it’s far too expensive. It costs £69 more than the Paperwhite to do much the same job, and for similar money you could purchase a very decent colour tablet, such as the Nexus 7, which can be used for far more than simply reading ebooks. Although the Kindle Voyage is a brilliant device, therefore, it’s a product only for dedicated bookworms.
What next? Find out what the best tablet on the market is in our essential guide.
|Resolution||1080 x 1430|
|Dimensions||115 x 7.6 x 162mm (WDH)|
|Weight||180g (Wi-Fi), 188g (3G)|
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