Amazon Kindle Voyage e-book reader

A crisper screen, better lighting, and new navigation, make the Kindle Voyage a premium e-book device

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Amazon.com Kindle Voyage e-book reader
  • Amazon.com Kindle Voyage e-book reader
  • Amazon.com Kindle Voyage e-book reader
  • Amazon.com Kindle Voyage e-book reader
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Sleek design
  • Screen is easy on the eyes

Cons

  • Takes a bit of time to get used to the navigation methods
  • Price

Would you buy this?

Amazon’s Kindle Voyage is thinner and more advanced than Kindle e-book readers before it, which we should be happy about. But is there a point when an e-book reader becomes a little too advanced for its own good?

In this instance, we don’t think so. The stuff that Amazon has put into the Kindle Voyage is all stuff that we have so far appreciated while using the small device for our reading pleasure. It has a more detailed E Ink Carta-based display than previous Kindle e-readers, better front lighting for reading at night, and improved navigation for one-handed operation.

The size of the Kindle Voyage is 150mm wide and 161mm tall, with the screen area taking up a diagonal distance of six inches within this space. The back is made of magnesium, and the glass front of the screen is flush from side to side, which gives a sleek look and feel. The thickness is just shy of 8mm, and the weight is 179g. All up, it’s an easy and comfortable device to hold.

The page-turning experience

A dark frame around the screen houses some new technology that Amazon has implemented, and this mostly concerns the way that page turns can be invoked. In addition to being able to swipe your finger left and right across the screen to turn a page, you can now also use pressure on the sides to turn a page forward or back.

Force sensors reside either side of the screen (so that you can hold the device with either hand), and they allow for one-handed page-turning operations. A long line indicates the area that you can press down on in order to turn a page forward, while a little dot further away above it indicates the spot that you can press to go back a page. Simply holding your hand on these areas won’t make a page turn; you have to press down with a bit of force in order for the page to turn, and there is haptic feedback to indicate when you’ve made a successful press.

The lines you see on either side and the areas you can press with force to turn the page. The dots above these lines take you back a page when they are pressed with force. It can take a while to get used to the fact that the left and right sides both perform the same function.
The lines you see on either side and the areas you can press with force to turn the page. The dots above these lines take you back a page when they are pressed with force. It can take a while to get used to the fact that the left and right sides both perform the same function.

It’s a neat way to turn a page when holding the Kindle with one hand, and we think it’s of benefit in situations such as when standing on public transport. You can still keep a tight grip on the Kindle Voyage with one hand (while your other hand holds a rail) and you won’t have to lift a finger to turn the page like you would if you had to swipe. You will have to move your thumb up a bit to turn back a page, though, and in that case a quick swipe towards the right is more efficient (when holding the device with your left hand, at least).

Screen quality has been increased to 300 dots per inch, and the text basically looks like it’s printed on a real page; each letter has crisp edges and solid colouring. There is plenty of contrast, making it easy on the eyes, and the brightness level of the light can be adjusted manually, or you can let the ambient light sensor take care of it for you.

The light is especially useful when reading at night, and there is a setting called ‘Nightlight’ which you can enable to make the light’s change more gradual, allowing your eyes to adjust to the change in conditions. In our experience, the change in brightness was more rapid than we expected.

We found it to be an easy read, whether in the brightness of daylight, or the darkness of night. Our comparison point is a Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone with the Kindle app installed, which we use on a daily basis. While we like that device for reading, it’s simply a more enjoyable experience to see the text of the pages in E Ink form.

Kindle Voyage Wi-Fi sitting in the Origami Cover accessory.
Kindle Voyage Wi-Fi sitting in the Origami Cover accessory.

A disadvantage of the E Ink is the ghosting that can appear on the screen from previous pages. This was noticeable to us after turning pages, and especially in the white space at the ends of sentences or at the top of the first page of a new chapter. It went away after a while, and there is also a screen refresh that occurs after 14 page-turns in the form of a black flash.

We didn’t actually mind the ghosting too much. Initially we thought it was a neat way to depict the characteristics of an actual paperback where you can see the text of the next page seeping through the paper.

Read more: BlackBerry Passport review: A smartphone going nowhere

Changes to the text size, font, line spacing, and margins, can all be made from the menu at the top of the screen, which appears when you tap near the top of the page. Taps elsewhere on the page will turn the page. You also get easy access to the light settings, the Amazon Kindle store for buying directly from your device, and you can connect a Good Reads account to receive book recommendations from the people you follow.

Additionally, you can access Amazon’s X-Ray feature quickly from the menu bar. If available for your book, the X-ray feature can give you details and context of characters and places in the book, making it a good way to catch up on what's happened in a book, especially if it's one you'd left for a while and are getting back to it, or if it's a book that you are currently studying.

The X-Ray feature in action. Some of the information given can be generic, however.
The X-Ray feature in action. Some of the information given can be generic, however.

Text selection can be accomplished by pressing firmly on the screen and moving your finger, for the purposes of highlighting it, translating it, or finding more information on Wikipedia, and simply leaning your finger on a word will select it and bring up the dictionary.

Battery life is rated as lasting for six weeks when assuming half an hour of reading per day at a brightness level of 10, and charging is via micro-USB. You get a cord, but need to use your own charger (such as the one from your smartphone) or plug in to a computer.

Storage for your books on the device is 4GB, and Wi-Fi is used for the online connection to Amazon and your online e-book library.

What's the verdict

When we initially read the long list of features for the Voyage, we immediately had an adverse reaction to so much stuff being packed in to what should be a fairly simple device. However, we think that the new features have a place and that they add quite nicely to the overall enjoyment of reading a book on an electronic device, especially while on the go. What they also do, though, is give this e-book reader a premium price tag, and that will be a hurdle for many.

An Origami Cover is available for the Voyage, and we used it for this review (you can see it in some of the photos). It’s a magnetic case that the e-reader is drawn to, and there is a cover flap that can easily be folded into a stand when flipped over the back of the device. When it covers the screen, the Kindle automatically switches off, and then on again when you lift the cover. It costs $75.

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