Kindle Voyage Review: The Pinnacle of Digital Book Reading

First thing's first, because I want to get this out of the way upfront.

The Kindle Voyage is expensive. It's $199 in a world where you can buy a regular Kindle for $49. That cheap Kindle is perfectly fine for reading books. It gets the job done. So does the Kindle Paperwhite—a more advanced e-reader than the baseline version, with much better resolution—which can currently be picked up for $99.

But here's the thing: if you are a passionate reader, the Kindle Voyage is the way to go, especially if you don't mind paying the extra money. Because what you get for that extra money is nothing short of incredible.

The Voyage looks like a Kindle, but the design is so much more user-friendly than previous iterations. It's nearly 2 millimeters thinner than the Paperwhite. It weighs an ounce less. And those things are cool, but our favorite part of the design has to be the back side, where Amazon has done away with the rounded corners of the paperwhite in favor of a more jagged exterior. It looks weird, but when you hold it in your hand, there is an a-ha moment: this thing is designed to hold with one hand, and it feels more like a book than any Kindle ever has.

The power button has also moved, from the bottom of the device to the back. It's a subtle change and you don't realize how much nicer it is to have instant access to the power button without turning the device sideways until you've actually used it. I can't imagine ever going back to the original design of the Paperwhite.

The display of the Voyage is where the device truly shines, though. The e-ink display packs in 300 dots per inch, whereas the Paperwhite is only 212. You have to see the difference in the screen to believe it. The Voyage quite literally looks more like printed paper than a lot of books we've seen, and it's certainly far better than any Amazon product before it. It's beautiful and so very easy to read, even on the smaller fonts. And the screen has anti-glare technology built in, which means it looks great even in sunlight.

The Voyage, like other Kindles before it, is backlit in a soft blue hue. But unlike previous devices—which left unlit spots in corners and along edges—the Voyage is 100% lit from edge to edge. It simply looks great in practice, whether in a dark room or sitting in the living room.

Turning pages is magical, to steal a word Steve Jobs often used to describe his Apple products. There are no physical buttons to press. Rather, there are two areas on each side of the rim that serve to turn pages forward and back. Give these areas a slight press and you'll feel a gentle press. And here's the really cool part: when you do so, the page turns instantly. It's much faster than previous iterations and, again, is something you need to experience to grasp.

The only downside are the Amazon origami covers. They sound like a neat idea in theory: fold the cover up and it can serve as a stand for your reader. But the bad part is that the cover folds upwards, over the top, and it makes the Voyage feel less like a book. If you're passionate about reading, that's not a good thing. But there are excellent traditional covers available from Amazon via third-party companies.

So, yeah. The Kindle Voyage is not for everyone. But if you are a reading purist, this is as good of a digital reading experience that currently exists. It's the best e-reader money can buy, even if it costs you significantly more than the lower-end models. This is a must buy.

What do you think?