Sunday, 14 June 2015 20:09

Review - Amazon Kindle Voyage e-book reader

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Amazon's latest Kindle is the smallest, lightest and most amazing Kindle yet, and in my view is the best e-book reader that has ever been released.

E-ink has been with us for almost 20 years now, and is now in its fourth generation. Although you can read e-books on your computer monitor, your smartphone, your tablet - even your Apple watch - your money is best spent on a good e-ink e-book reader. E-ink is crisp and clear and looks like text has been etched onto an electronic panel. It is far better for your eyes for sustained use, and uses vastly lower power, only really consuming energy when refreshing the display, such as changing the page.

I went through several e-book readers, each with their own qualities and quirks. I'd ignored Amazon's Kindle line which launched in 2007 thinking a cheaper reader would be just fine, and fearing proprietary lock-in with Amazon.com.

These worries were unfounded; I purchased a Kindle Keyboard 3G and while I alreayd knew how good e-ink was to read, the Kindle Keyboard demonstrated itself to be a superior e-book reader than the ones I had used before. It responded faster to turning the page, it had a far greater range of cases and other accessories, and importantly it had ongoing support, The 3G version also benefited greatly from online access anywhere in the world, at Amazon's expense.

I was freely able to load my own e-books onto the Kindle as well as download those I had purchased from Amazon. In fact, it was effortless to buy a book online then go and find it had downloaded to the Kindle automatically in the time it took me to go retrieve it. Online sources such as Reddit's Kindle Freebies subreddit and OzBargain have proved a regular source of legitimately free e-books, all automatically and effortlessly delivered to my device.

I upgraded to a Kindle Paperwhite 2 primarily because the soft backlight allowed me to read in bed without needing a light on, unlike the Kindle Keyboard. As magnificent as the Kindle Keyboard looked in daylight, I still needed a light source to read it in the dark.

Of course, this is where a tablet aficionado would suggest a tablet already comes with a light source, and is thus a more versatile device being an e-book reader and email and web browsing and gaming and productivity device too. Yet, you need to see e-ink to appreciate it has a crispness which cannot be compared to reading on a tablet. I truly believe if you enjoy reading and value the health of your eyes you need an e-ink device.

A bibliophile might suggest the whole issue of tablet vs. e-ink is moot; nothing compares to the feel of a good book in your hands. As true as this may be, the pragmatic reality of an e-book reader is being able to carry a massive library with you at all times. Even a single gigabyte of storage will easily hold a couple of hundred books, and the e-books you acquire from Amazon.com don't even need any cables or fuss to get onto your device. Go on a long plane trip to Europe and consider the benefit of having so many options in your jacket pocket, compared to stuffing several paperbacks in your luggage.

Amazon.com has released its latest edition, the Kindle Voyage, in Australia and New Zealand and it is truly the most magnificent Kindle to date. Based on my experiences, it is my opinion Amazon's Kindle range has proven itself to be the most superior range of e-book readers. Therefore, I have no hesitation in stating the Kindle Voyage is simply the greatest e-book reader which has ever graced the planet.

If you have never owned an e-book reader then there isn't anything more to say; if you want to read books get the Kindle Voyage.

If you are an existing Kindle owner, the argument is a bit more difficult, because your current Kindle may well be serving you fine. In my case above I only moved from the Kindle Keyboard to the Kindle Paperwhite because of the inclusion of the backlight. It just so happened the Paperwhite was also lighter and slimmer and faster and inclouded a touchscreen instead of a keyboard. These were definite advancements (though I will note the Kindle Keyboard 3G still has the most generous 3G plan, allowing web browsing in addition to e-book purchasing) and I appreciated them, but the reality is my Kindle Keyboard was still pretty good. It wasn't broken (still isn't) and it was still an exceptionally good reader.

Similarly, my Kindle Paperwhite is serving me fine. However, having had the opportunity to hold and use the Kindle Voyage I am struck by how incredibly light it is - this thing is almost wafer-thin - as well as its greater crispness, now with 300 pixels per inch. You don't even need to lift a finger to turn the page; the device will respond to a light squeeze. The light automatically adjusts its brightness depending on ambient lighting.

As tempted as I am, it is a difficult call to suggest existing Kindle owners need to upgrade, because it is a testmanet to Amazon.com that the Kindle range of devices have been so strong and so usable and ultimately still stand the test of time. You need to consider the new features and determine how compelling they are for you.

Or, do as I may do, and persuade someone else in your life how much they need a Kindle, then gift them your previous model Kindle so you can buy the new Kindle Voyage.

Whatever you do, trust me on this, if you are a reader and do not already own a Kindle, you simply need the Kindle Voyage.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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