Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2014
I am writing this review from the perspective of being a long-time Kindle user vs. someone brand new to the Kindle experience. As a point of reference, I have owned and used each model of the e-Ink Kindles and Kindle Fires. From an overall standpoint, and considering everything you get (compact e-Reader, touch screen, lighting system), the Kindle Voyage is a really nice e-Reader, but if cost, quality, and value are your primary considerations the Paperwhite to me is the best option for an e-Ink reader; if you have to have the latest gadget and can afford almost $100 extra, go with the Voyage. To me, this is really the third generation of the Paperwhite.
Opening up the box, included with the Voyage is a micro-USB cord but no power adapter. That's really annoying. Interestingly, and it seems rather chicken of Amazon, a power adaptor has to be purchased separately for $15 if you purchase it at the same time as you purchase the Kindle (or $20 if you purchase it later), so if you already have a micro-USB charger handy I wouldn't order one of the chargers. If you’re going to ask me to pay $269+ for an e-Ink reader please don’t try to gouge me an additional $15 to charge the thing.
Similar to the each new edition of the r-Ink reading experience, I am impressed at how much smaller these e-Readers can become as compared to a "regular" Kindle or my Kindle Keyboard yet still not feel like you're losing anything from a "feels like a book" experience.
To address the reading experience, I compared the current book I was reading side-by-side with the latest generation Paperwhite as I wasn't sure what to expect with the display. The text on the screen is a lot sharper on the Voyage as compared to the Paperwhite with a better contrast: the whites are whiter and the blacks are blacker. Why is that important? It means the text is more crisp while you are reading which is always a good thing (and my aging eyes). While the Paperwhite has a really crisp font / character set but the Voyage is much more crisp. Compared to a regular e-Ink Kindle, the text on the Voyage screen blows it away; just to ensure I wasn't being biased I put the Paperwhite next to a Kindle 3 / Keyboard, and a Kindle DX - all on the same page of a book with the covers removed (didn't want the cover to give an optical illusion or anything) - and you can clearly see a better quality in terms of the fonts. Sure, part of that has to do with the age of the devices in the comparison and the technical specs, but those of you who may be considering an upgrade from an older model like the Keyboard or DX will be really impressed.
Similar to the Paperwhite Reading in the dark is a good experience with the lighting display in comparison to the other versions of Kindle because you don't need an additional light that can get in the way: you won’t disturb someone if you are reading in a dark room; I imagine this will also be very convenient on a plane ride at night as you are able to see the full page of the text vs. a light attachment only reaching most of the screen: there are no impediments to the reading screen. Reading outside is not a problem, either, as compared to some of the display issues you may have with a Fire or iPad tablet outside.
Turning the page forwards is as simple as a simple tap of the thumb on the screen as you hold the device, a swipe with your finger in either direction on the screen, or the new “PagePress” which are actually buttons on each side of the screen. After a couple of hours of reading, I think I finally have the PagePress buttons figured out – it was a pain in the neck to get there- if you hold it too long (say you’re deep in thought while reading), it will skip multiple pages ahead and you have to scroll back and back and back until you find the page you were originally reading. The left-hand button must be designed for lefties: if you push the left-hand button you page turn forward vs. backwards and will need to tap the screen: either I can’t figure out the left-hand button or I will just tap the screen to make it page back.
If you like the text-to-speech feature of previous Kindle models or listened to music with your previous Kindle, please be aware there are no speakers nor is there a plug for headphones.
WiFi setup was easy, Web surfing speed with the wireless is about the same as with other versions of the e-Ink Kindles: slow as Christmas! There’s not a noticeable difference with the 3G option, either. My usual test of the connectivity on a Kindle was hitting the main pages of the mobile websites of Fox News, CNN, and Google. I pushed "go" or "enter" buttons / icons at the same time on each and did not see a visible difference in the load speeds start to finish: I was about 50 yards away from my wireless router at home with a couple of walls in the way for the wireless test, with similar results at my office after the Kindle arrived. I did try to check one of my Google email accounts but it crashed. I learned a couple of years ago to not try and surf the Internet with an e-Ink Kindle because it's so darn slow; besides, I use the Kindle to read a book and I can surf the Internet or check my email on my other devices. For this model, I paid extra for the 3G model as there are areas in the country I travel where WiFi service is spotty, so the 3G was worth it to me: if you have reliable WiFi service in your daily life, you can probably skip buying the 3G version and save yourself $70 on your purchase.
Size matters and, in this case, the Voyage is not too small and not too large and is actually a little smaller than a Paperwhite.
Battery life is supposed to last "...weeks on a single charge" but please note that’s if you have the Wi-Fi / 3G off and only use it half an hour each day. I read more than half an hour each day, and the Wi-Fi is usually on, so if you’re like me you better have a charger handy.
It did take a few minutes to get this model up and running as, in addition to the normal making sure it is registered and going through a mandatory tutorial on which areas of the screen to tap to perform various functions, there is a lot of Amazon marketing you have to weed through: do you want to sign up for Goodreads (an Amazon affiliate), would you like to sign up for Kindle Unlimited (for a monthly recurring revenue stream to Amazon), would you like to link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so your're friends / family / perfect strangers can be voyeuristic on what you are reading (absolutely not for me).
Similar to the other new models of Kindle, you can also sign up for parental controls with this version which I think is a great idea - sometimes you don't want your children to read what you are reading.
One annoying thing (to me, at least) is the automatic import of the various categories / collections you have linked to your Amazon account onto this version and links to the books in the Cloud that you can immediately download in the same category on the new Kindle. If you're replacing an older Kindle with this one that could be handy, but if you have other people on your account / family in households with more than one Kindle, that can be a pain in the neck because, for example, my wife and I generally have different tastes in books - I don't want her books cluttering up my Kindle's screen and she feels the same way about mine. It's not a deal killer, but it does make you wade through a lot of stuff.
If you boil down all of the whistles and bells, the cost of the unit and the cost of additional items (cover, screen protector), plus the elimination of purchasing an external light for reading at night, this is a really nice e-Ink Kindle reader. I don’t see much of a difference from a reading perspective than the cheaper Paperwhite, however, and if cost, quality, and value are your primary considerations the Paperwhite to me is the best option for an e-Ink reader; if you have to have the latest gadget and can afford almost $100 extra, go with the Voyage.