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Kindle Voyage review: Amazon's e-reader is too good to be merely a Paperwhite 2

Michael Brown | Oct. 28, 2014
The Kindle Voyage? The name makes no sense, but I understand why Amazon didn't call its latest e-reader the Paperwhite 2. It's good enough to deserve a name all its own.

The Kindle Voyage? The name makes no sense, but I understand why Amazon didn't call its latest e-reader the Paperwhite 2. It's good enough to deserve a name all its own.

The Kindle Voyage is stuffed with new features and meaningful improvements over the Paperwhite. I'll cover the most important ones first. The Voyage's screen delivers higher resolution than the Paperwhite: 300 pixels per inch. The Paperwhite's 221-ppi display looks very good, but you can discern jagged edges in fonts if you look closely. With the Voyage, you can't see jaggies even with the aid of a magnifying glass.

The Paperwhite introduced a front light that made its E-Ink display readable under any lighting conditions. The Voyage keeps this feature but adds a light sensor that automatically adjusts the brightness in response to the level of ambient light. This not only eliminates the need to adjust the brightness every time you start reading, it should also increase the Voyage's battery life. Enable the "nightlight" feature, and the screen brightness will gradually dim as your eyes adjust to a darkened room.

Smooth as glass

For me, the next biggest improvement is the texture of the Voyager's glass. That might seem like an odd thing to put so high on a list of improvements, but the Paperwhite's glass has this grainy, almost pebbly texture that literally rubs me the wrong way. I viscerally dislike the way it feels under my thumb or fingertip when I stroke the glass to turn a page or touch the screen to call up a menu or a definition. It just feels weird, even if it wasn't bad enough to drive me back to my first-gen Kindle.

The Voyage's glass is as smooth as the glass on any laptop or smartphone I've used, and there's no transition between the bezel and the display. And the Voyage's new page-turn buttons are just as important as the texture of its glass. Amazon embedded four surface-mount buttons (Amazon calls them PagePress sensors) on the right and left bezels that make turning pages even easier: A slight squeeze on the vertical lines on either side of the bezel advance pages, and the same action on the dots above those lines reverse pages.

This means you can hold the Voyage in your left or right hand, and the buttons work even when the e-reader is in its case (more on that later). In addition to the obvious visual cue of the page refreshing, the Voyage provides a bit of haptic feedback when you've applied enough pressure to effect a page turn. You can fine-tune the amount of pressure needed to activate page turns, too.

 

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