Amazon has built a small cult following for its line of Kindle devices, especially among two types of customers - avid readers who like to carry their books with them wherever they go and buyers who are heavily invested in the Amazon environment.

As you can tell from these two very different customers, not all Kindles are the same. The Kindle series began as a range of dedicated e-readers featuring Amazon's Carta e-ink technology that quickly grew extremely popular with readers in the 21st century. In 2011, Amazon expanded the Kindle line to include all-purpose tablets that can be used for reading, browsing, playing games, watching videos, and other uses.

Amazon still makes Kindle e-readers featuring e-ink displays, and Amazon still makes the best e-readers available in the market. These are the high-end Kindle Voyage and the older but still impressive Kindle Paperwhite. But the newest tablet, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is also one of the most competitive slates.

If you're planning to get a Kindle for yourself, you'll need to know the major differences between Amazon's most popular devices and whether their features are suitable to the activities you plan to do on them. Here's a closer look at each device.

Kindle Fire HDX 8.9

At $379, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is one of the more reasonably-priced tablets available, but don't get fooled into thinking that low-cost equals cheap. While the HDX is no iPad 2 or a Galaxy Tab S 10.5, it definitely offers great value for its price.

Sporting a quad-core 2.5 GHz Snapdragon 805 processor with 2 GB of RAM, the HDX can easily do all of the things an average user will throw at it. Things such as surfing the web, watching videos, listening to music, and reading e-books in color are buttery smooth and lag-free, and an Adreno 420 GPU makes for awesome graphics that makes playing games on the HDX feel like playing games on a dedicated console.

The screen on this tablet is also notable. With a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, it has 30 percent more pixels than Apple's Retina display. This won't probably matter, since Retina already looks stunning and the HDX screen is phenomenal. However, it's good to know that the increased requirement won't be taxing on the tablet's processor, as the HDX uses a more power-efficient low-temperature poly-silicone LCD screen.

Reading for long periods on this tablet is stressful, as it is on every other LCD device. While the HDX fares a little bit better in bright sunlight than other tablets, the glare on the screen makes it impossible to curl up and read a good book on the HDX for long hours. If you're looking for something you can read with, the HDX is not the device you need. Better get the Kindle Voyage or the Paperwhite if you want to keep your costs down.

As mentioned earlier, the HDX is an all-around tablet for doing everything. You read some, you watch videos some, you surf the web some. You also take pictures some, but take note that the 8-megapixel camera on this device will not exactly give you the awesome photos and videos you want, but who wants to be a tablet photographer anyway?

The HDX runs on Amazon's Fire OS, an Android-based operating system, although it looks and feels nothing like Android. The latest version of Fire OS, Sangria, is mostly solid and stable, but not without a few bugs and issues that Amazon could further improve. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, you'll find Fire OS very convenient in accessing all your content and shopping for everything you need on a single device.

Kindle Voyage

The Kindle Voyage is Amazon's latest and greatest e-reader, and you can get it for $199. That's a lot less than the price of the HDX, but keep in mind that you won't be able to check your email, watch videos, or listen to music. Amazon has taken out an experimental music player feature it released in earlier versions of the e-reader but has decided the Voyage will cater to a single purpose - that is, as a portable library and reading device.

Unlike the HDX, the Voyage features a smaller 6-inch e-ink display that looks like you're reading the pages of a real book. Reading in sunlight or bright light does not come with glare as the Voyage's front light, as opposed to a regular tablet's backlight, is not overpowered by outside light sources. The front light also means there is no eyestrain that many people complain of when reading on a tablet. And unlike with the older Kindle versions, you won't need a clip-on light.

The Voyage is essentially an evolutionary upgrade from the second-generation Paperwhite released last year, with both offering nearly the same reading experience as the other. Both devices run on the same processor, have 4 GB of storage to contain thousands of books, and are Wi-Fi enabled to deliver books from Amazon Cloud via WhisperSync. There are also 3G versions for both devices, but Wi-Fi is often enough for most people.

However, some key differences exist. Notably, Amazon upgraded the Voyage's display to 300 pixels per inch, making for really sharp text that looks more and more like you're reading real paper. The device is also slightly smaller and lighter than its predecessor, although one-handed reading is still a breeze for the Paperwhite.

Another key difference is a new feature called PagePress, which lets you turn the pages of your book by slightly pressing the sides of the Voyage. In turn, the device provides haptic feedback in the form of a vibration that can be adjusted to your preference. You'll also find the adaptive lighting on the Voyage pretty neat. On the Paperwhite, you can adjust the lighting manually to suit your comfort level, but the Voyage automatically dims or brightens depending on the light of your surroundings. For instance, the light on your Voyage will eventually decrease in brightness during nighttime reading as your eyes adjust to the light.

So, who is the Voyage for? If you read a lot of books, and even a lot of documents (which you can put in your Kindle), and you want the best e-reader available on the market, the Voyage is for you. However, this one has a few limitations. For one thing, reading books with a lot of colored pictures or maps on a Voyage isn't as good as reading them on a tablet. And, of course, you won't be able to do anything much on this device except read a lot of text-based books. Again, if reading is not your only purpose, better get the HDX.

Kindle Paperwhite

The Kindle Paperwhite is last year's e-reader, but it is still by far Amazon's bestselling Kindle for plenty of good reasons. One of them is it costs only $119 with special offers, which are non-intrusive advertisements for new books that aren't really very annoying, and which you can easily swipe away at the bottom of the home screen.

Feature-wise, it is nearly at par with the Voyage, except for a 212 ppi e-ink display that still offers impressively sharp text. The Paperwhite is a little bit larger by a few millimeters and a little bit heavier by a few grams, but it's nearly unnoticeable for most people. It does, however, lack PagePress and only lets you turn a page by tapping or swiping the touchscreen. Adaptive lighting is also not found here, and you'll probably notice some slight shadows at the bottom of the screen where the front light is coming from, but it's not a deal-breaker.

Like the Voyage, the Paperwhite lasts extremely long on a single charge. While the HDX will last up to 12 hours on mixed use - respectable enough for a device with an LCD display - the Paperwhite can last up to several weeks, depending on your reading habits. Amazon says it can last up to eight weeks if you read 30 minutes a day, but anyone who is looking to buy a Paperwhite usually reads more than that. The Voyage, on the other hand, gets six weeks of battery life.

You'll also find several features that make reading a far better experience than reading with regular old books. Word Lookup helps you with words you don't know without having to take out that bulky dictionary from the shelf. It will also compile all the words you look up and present them in flash cards for you to review later. Page Flip lets you skim backward or forward by page or chapter without losing where you are. Time to Read lets you track your reading time, so you'll know if you still have time to squeeze in that last chapter before the sun rises or if you better get some sleep. All of these you also get on the Voyage.


The Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is a decent all-around tablet with a colored LCD display. If you want a Kindle where you can browse the web, go on social media, stream movies from Amazon Instant Video, play songs from Prime Music, and play graphics-intensive games, this device provides an affordable way to do all that.

The Kindle Voyage, on the other hand, serves a completely different purpose. It is designed singly for readers, and you won't be able to do anything else but read books on this device. If you have $199 and want to get the best e-reader out there, get the Kindle Voyage.

But if you can't afford a Voyage, the Kindle Paperwhite is the best alternative. For e-reading purposes, this is still the best device out there, second only to the Voyage. Admittedly, the Voyage has a few bells and whistles you won't get on this older device, but you won't be complaining with a Paperwhite.

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