Kindle Voyage : A really short review

Has it been five years already, since I first started using a Kindle? Amazing how so many things have changed in this time frame. I had a USD259 Kindle 2 in Feb 2010, then upgraded to a much cheaper USD139 Kindle 3 later that year.

Both were very imperfect e-book readers, hampered by the technologies of 2010. To be honest, I haven’t used my Kindles much in the past few years as the iPad, and later the iPad mini took over the e-book reader function. What I really couldn’t tolerate was the low contrast, low resolution (167 ppi) and dull grey e-ink screen of those Kindles.

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My old Kindle 2 and Kindle 3, both from 2010, or an eternity in techology.
kindle kopi
It’s 2015 and I now hold the tiny Voyage, a massive improvement after 7 generations of Kindles.

The iPads were a great alternative at first, with at least 264 ppi resolution and full color Retina screens, but I soon realized I couldn’t actually complete any books on them due to the blue light effect.

iPads do make great Bible readers though, as you won’t be reading many passages at a long stretch and you can search quickly for specific verses and books. I love my Surface Pro 3, but it’s a powerhouse 12″ device for real work (Outlook, Excel, Powerpoint and Photoshop) and not meant to be held in one hand. E-book readers still have their place in this world, but have largely been shouted down by cheap Android tablets or expensive iPads, that’s why you don’t see many people using Kindles or its brethren on the train.

So what is a book-loving geek to do? I stopped reading books regularly.

I would buy discounted Kindle books from Amazon whenever a sale came along, but I could not finish off more than a few chapters of each book. These dark days have ended with the USD199 Kindle Voyage (the 7th generation Kindle), which I managed to get a test drive with my colleague Barrie’s unit before I placed my order.

I wrote a long review of the Kindle 2 and a shorter one of the Kindle 3, but the Kindle Voyage doesn’t need a long review because it fixes all the gripes I had with the previous models. So here’s why you should buy one if you like books.

300 ppi on an e-ink screen.

That’s the same resolution as a printed book (finally, after so many years!). No more jagged or pixelated text, and serif fonts look great. I’ve been waiting for this day like forever, and it’s also why I ignored the 2011-2013 Kindles which were still featuring low-resolution fonts.

The e-ink text is probably 85% black (so could be blacker) but it’s good enough. Frankly, it’s a huge leap from the previous Kindles in display technology.

Comfortable LED lighting that isn’t necessary in good lighting

The e-ink screen is still light dull grey in color, but you can adjust the amount of LED lighting that makes it look like an almost white piece of paper. Now, all veteran Kindle owners and traditional book lovers know that you should try to read under good lighting, so you probably don’t need to use an LED brightness of more than 30-40%. The display is also a nice matte texture for minimal reflections, not a glossy one.

Compare this to an iPad or Android tablet screen where you have no choice but to drown your eyes in artificial light emanating directly from the screen.

One issue: The lighting isn’t even in color tone – it goes from slight yellow to slight blue from top to the bottom, and is a well-reported complaint. But depending on your level of OCD, it may not even be an issue. For me, I read under good lighting so the color gradient is not so obvious.

Your choice of page-turning controls

You can either lightly squeeze the side of the bezels (PagePress) to go forward or backward, or you can touch the screen. As I’m always holding the Kindle by the side of the bezels as I eat my meals, I’m glad I could deactivate the bezel buttons.

All else is good

It’s lightweight at 180gm (I sometimes wonder if it’s still in the bag), battery life goes on for a week or so, provides easy access and purchase from the Amazon Kindle store, slips into any big pocket and it’s just plain easy to use compared to previous generations. The Wi-Fi works quietly in the background (mostly for syncing pages and finding dictionary words for me), and the Voyage updates itself automatically if required.

The most important thing

I finished off Neil Gaiman’s latest collection of short stories “Trigger Effect” within three days. It’s the first book I’ve finished reading in years, and I did it without any strain on my eyes that the iPad would have caused.

Now, I’m going to start on my collection of Ray Bradbury books that I have purchased two years ago but never read.

And that’s why you should buy the Kindle Voyage.

Rated: 9.5/10

kindle covers for ian
For once, I didn’t bother to buy the official Amazon Kindle cover for the Voyage. I just bought two sets of $2 SGD Daiso tablet sleeves, and cut one of them, then sewed it up to make my own Kindle sleeve. Beats paying nearly $60 USD for the official cover.