Amazon is set to ship the Kindle Voyage, its latest and greatest e-reader so far, but reviews from people who were fortunate to get their hands on the new Kindle are already coming in. The verdict?
The Kindle Voyage is the new gold standard in e-reading.
The Voyage, which was announced in September, features a design language that takes after the Kindle Fire, with an angular magnesium and glossy plastic rear panel and a scratch-resistant screen that is flush with the bezel.
However, the biggest selling point is the 6-inch e-ink display with Carta technology, which packs a whopping 300 pixels per inch. By comparison, the mid-range Paperwhite has only 221 pixels. The difference in the number of pixels per inch gives Voyage a more paper-like look by providing better contrast and eliminating the text ghosting that is common with the older Kindle models.
"Consider the humble graphic novel," says Chris Velazco of The Verge. "Thumbing through Bryan Lee O'Malley's Seconds wasn't bad at all on the Paperwhite, with lovingly crafted images and text boxes coming through clearly. It wasn't until I put it next to the Voyage that I realized what I was missing -- details that were glossed over on the Paperwhite were easy to spot on the Voyage's high-res display."
"A menu that appeared smudgy and indistinct on the Paperwhite came through with surprising clarity on the Voyage," he adds. "I could tell Katie's restaurant was serving smoked Cornish hen, buttermilk mashed tubers & whipped pork fat and pickled asparagus."
Another notable upgrade is the inclusion of auto-brightness, which uses sensors to detect the environment and automatically adjusts the screen's brightness to make it look like a piece of paper under a reading lamp. Auto-brightness also includes Nightlight, a feature that lets Voyage adjust the brightness gradually, so that the eyes eventually adjust to the brightness as the surroundings change.
Battery life is as phenomenal as ever. Amazon has always performed consistently when it comes to its e-readers' batteries. The Voyage lasts a good six weeks on a single charge. That's for users who like to read half an hour every day with Wi-Fi turned off and the front light set to less than medium. Voyage comes with 4GB of storage, with 3GB available for saving thousands of books.
Undoubtedly, the Kindle Voyage is the e-reader to beat. However, there's a catch. Amazon has decided to veer away from its strategy of offering premium devices at steep discounts and is offering the Voyage for $199. Its predecessor and biggest competition, the Paperwhite, debuted at $119, although admittedly Amazon has not yet slashed the price on that one.
Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, thinks Amazon took the wrong turn when it priced its new e-reader at a premium.
"If it was an $80 or $100 device, you would see people upgrade, but at $200 it's a very nice premium gift for people who don't have a Paperwhite," Entner says. "It looks like the upgrades are getting smaller and the price differential is becoming larger. It's great that Amazon improved the Kindle but I think they got the pricing wrong."
Others, while agreeing that the Voyage is a waste of money for people who only read a few books a year, believe that it is a worthy purchase for a specific group of buyers, namely voracious readers who read books every day.
Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times says the improvements in the high-contrast display is reason enough for avid readers to buy a Kindle Voyage.
"For me, the Voyage's display justifies the price," Manjoo says. "If you read often, you'll want a high-quality screen, and this is one you'll appreciate every single time you read."