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Kindle vs Fire: How to choose the right Amazon e-reader

Michael Brown | Nov. 24, 2015
So you’ve narrowed the e-reader field to Amazon’s lineup. We’ll help you pick the right model for your needs.

Kindle Voyage

Kindle Voyage 
The Kindle Voyage is not only Amazon’s best e-reader, it’s probably the best e-reader you can buy. And it’s priced accordingly. Credit: Michael Brown

The $200 Kindle Voyage sits at the tippy top of Amazon’s Kindle lineup, and we really dig it. Its cover glass is silky smooth to the touch, and it’s flush with its bezel. These are features you’ll really notice if you swipe to turn pages. If you’d prefer to keep your fingers off the glass, the Voyage is equipped with buttons on its left and right bezels that you can touch to move forward and backward through the book. These touch-sensitive PagePress buttons, as Amazon calls them, are easily accessed whether you’re holding the Kindle in your left or right hand. Read our full review of the Kindle Voyage here.

As I’ve already mentioned, a backlight enables you to keep reading no matter the lighting conditions in the room. Just know that a backlight will also reduce the time you can read while running on battery power. Enable the Voyage’s built-in ambient light sensor, and it will automatically adjust the backlight so that it consumes less power. Here’s another benefit: Put one of Amazon’s Kindle Voyage covers on the Voyage (the Origami model is particularly nice), and the ambient light sensor will immediately put the Voyage to sleep when you cover its display. Open it back up and the Voyage will be ready to read before you’ve completed the motion.

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite 
The Kindle Paperwhite plays second fiddle to the Kindle Voyage, but it delivers substantially more bang for the buck. Credit: Amazon

Amazon’s second-generation Paperwhite wiped away one of the Voyage’s key advantages: Both models now deliver the same 300-pixels-per-inch resolution that makes reading on them such a joy. Two caveats: It’s slightly thicker and heavier than the Voyage, and you’ll need to adjust the Paperwhite’s backlight manually to compensate for ambient lighting conditions (but you probably won’t bother, which will mean its battery will run down more quickly).

The Paperwhite’s cover glass also has a somewhat pebbly surface that you might find irritating, and there’s a bit of ledge between the glass and the bezel. Those are differences you’ll feel every time you turn a page—even if you don’t have a hypersensitive sense of touch—because the Paperwhite doesn’t have those elegant PagePress buttons.

The Paperwhite’s regular price is $120 to the Voyage’s $200—but Amazon is taking $20 off the Paperwhite’s price tag as part of its Eight Days of Holiday Deals until Friday, November 27. If you can catch the Paperwhite deal, you could opt for both of its available options—3G connectivity and no special offers—and still pay $10 less than the price of a Voyage. The Voyage is Amazon’s best e-reader—heck, it’s probably the best e-reader on the market—but the Paperwhite delivers more bang for the buck.


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