MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader
The Amazon Kindle Voyage takes everything that you already like the Kindle Paperwhite and adds in a couple of extra features for more than double the price. Is it worth it?
Pros
  • Same excellent Kindle experience
  • Adaptive backlight works well
  • Very thin and light
Cons
  • Not worth the extra money
  • Origami case is heavy
  • Accidental PagePress is common
7Overall Score

Have you ever found yourself curled up under the covers in bed with your favorite e-book, wishing that you could turn to the next page without having to lift your thumb? Have you ever wished that the brightness of that backlit e-paper display would automatically adjust to the ambient conditions so you wouldn’t have to make the change yourself? These are the two biggest promises put forth by the Amazon Kindle Voyage, which is now available in Canada for the first time. It’s the Kindle you love, “passionately crafted for readers.”

The Canadian Kindle Voyage

MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader

For some reason or another, the Amazon Kindle Voyage launched in the United States some time ago and us poor Canucks were left out in the cold again. I believe it had something to do with patents and licensing. Whatever the legal case may have been, it’s now been overcome and Canadians can get their hands on the still relatively new Kindle Voyage too.

Amazon is certainly not reinventing the e-book reading wheel here, as the Kindle Voyage borrows just about everything from the Kindle Paperwhite. You still get a 6-inch 300 ppi touchscreen display, you still get 4GB of internal storage, you still get the option for free 3G in addition to Wi-Fi, and you still get a battery that “lasts weeks on a single charge.” It is slightly lighter and smaller than the Paperwhite in every dimension, but the difference isn’t all that noticeable.

What is noticeable is the difference in design. It’s still a black slab with an e-paper display, but the back has an angular look rather than a rounded one. This gives it more personality at the expense of looking less streamlined. The power button has also been moved to the back, which is really neither a positive nor a negative; it’s just a difference. Watch my unboxing video and feature overview for a closer look.

A Familiar Ebook Reading Experience

MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader

Like every other Kindle that you’ve ever ordered from Amazon, the Kindle Voyage will come pre-configured and pre-connected to your Amazon account when it arrives at your doorstep.

That’s pretty handy, since your library can automatically get synchronized too. You just need to spend the time to go through the initial setup wizard, which connects the e-reader to your home Wi-Fi network. You’ll also need to download the e-books you want to read, of course.

The user interface is also exactly the same and the wizard will walk you through all the basics that you need to know. Tap near the top of the screen to get the main menu at any time, including access to the store to buy more content (or download free samples) and to the Goodreads community to connect with other bookworms. That’s also how you get at the settings menu to adjust your font preferences and configure other options.

MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader

As can be expected, the higher resolution e-ink display is really easy on the eyes. It’s still not quite like reading an actual dead tree edition book, but it’s a lot easier on the eyes that curling up with your tablet. The tradeoff, as before, is that the touchscreen won’t be quite as responsive. It still works and I appreciate the the display is flush with the bezels too. That’s smooth.

The official $59.99 origami standing cover is decidedly on the pricier side of things. It’s also heavier than I would have liked. The weight is due largely to the magnets which allow for the automatic wake/sleep function. It’s functional, but not necessarily something I would invest in myself.

Adaptive Brightness with Night Light

MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader

So, if most everything hasn’t changed all that much from the Kindle Paperwhite, why would someone consider ponying up so many extra bucks to get the Kindle Voyage instead? It boils down to two key features. The first of these is an auto brightness setting for the screen’s light level. On the Paperwhite, you had to dial it down yourself when you wanted to read in a dimmer environment.

With the Voyage, it can figure that out on its own. This means that when you whip it out to read something on the park bench under the bright sunlight, it can adjust on its own. When you come home at night and read it under the dim conditions of your bedroom, it’ll adjust to that too. In my experience, this was all quite seamless and I never had any issues with visibility.

As an added bonus, there’s a feature called Night Light. What happens here is that the screen brightness with gradually reduce over time as your eyes adjust to the dark. This way, you’re not staring at a screen that’s too bright before actually falling asleep.

Squeezing the PagePress Juice

MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader

PagePress is the other key differentiating feature. You get a pair of force sensors on either side of the screen. The lower one, which is a larger vertical strip, is used to advance to the next page. The smaller dot above it is used to go back to the previous page. You may think that the sensor on the left is for the previous page and the one on the right is for the next page, but that’s not how it works. Both sides are mirrored.

They’re not “buttons” in the traditional sense, because PagePress is pressure sensitive. You can adjust how sensitive these sensors are through the settings and you can opt to activate the haptic feedback too. The idea is that you don’t need to move your thumb to keep reading. It may be decent enough of an idea in theory, but I didn’t find it terribly useful in practice.

Especially when I was reading on my back, holding the Kindle above my head, gravity would sometimes cause the PagePress page turn sensor to engage when I didn’t want to go to the next page. It’s really not that hard to tap on the right half of the screen to go to the next page instead. PagePress might be a “nice to have” for some people and a nuisance for others.

MEGATechie Fantastic Voyage or MEGATechie Expensive Kindling?

MEGATech Reviews: Amazon Kindle Voyage E-Book Reader

There are alternatives out there. You could get a Kobo Aura and not be unhappy with your e-book experience. That being said, the Kindle brand is the Kleenex of e-books and for good reason. The catalog is huge, the user interface is effective, and the extra features — like integrated dictionary lookups — are great.

The biggest problem I have with the Kindle Voyage is the price. The Wi-Fi only Amazon Kindle Voyage is listed at $299.99 on Amazon Canada, whereas the 3G-enabled model is $369.99. Pricing in the United States through Amazon.com is $199.99 and $269.99 for the Wi-Fi only and 3G-enabled models, respectively. Something that it’s important to note is that the US model comes “with special offers” (which can be removed for $20), but the Canadian version does not.

While you might like PagePress and while the adaptive screen brightness is useful, it’s questionable whether you’d want to spend $300 on a Voyage when you can get the already awesome Paperwhite for less than half of that. The value proposition just isn’t there for me. Get a Paperwhite (or two) instead.


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