Friday, December 19, 2014

The Voyage is Over, I mean, Here

Up until now, I've been saying that anyone who loves to read will always prefer a hardback book as the ultimate reading "device." Not any more. The best way to read is the on the new Kindle Voyage. And not just when traveling. Anywhere.

Sorry, Mr. Gutenberg.


  • Screen resolution- the Voyage is the first e-book reader to match the resolution of the printed page, 300 dots per inch (dpi)
  • Adaptive frontlight- as on the Paperwhite, the frontlight lets you read under any lighting condition from total darkness to bright sunlight, but on the Voyage, the frontlight adjusts automatically to the ambient light. You just start reading
  • Covers with automatic wake- open and start reading
  • Last page read- all Kindles remember your last page read
  • Page turn zones- a slight squeeze of either bezel does forward and backward page turns, so you can read with one hand- either one- and get haptic feedback
  • Dictionary look up- quickly look up any word while reading. Try that with a dead-tree book
  • Translation- highlight and translate any phrase
  • No interruptions- no email, web, games, apps, text messages, or phone calls
Amazon's goal with the first Kindle, released in 2007, was to make a reading device that disappears in your hand, just like a paper book disappears and lets you become immersed in the story. The Paperwhite nearly got there and the Voyage has arrived.

The screen resolution is huge. For the first time ever, an electronic reading device has matched the resolution of offset printed book pages. (I'm not counting backlit LCD screens as found on the Fire, the iPad, and on Android tablets. Although tablets passed 300 dpi a couple of years ago, their screens generate images by backlight, which is much harder on your eyes than the frontlit Voyage. Front lighting is what our eyes evolved in- the world is frontlit.)

The adaptive frontlight means that if you have a cover with automatic wake and sleep you can just open the cover and start reading, just like a paper book with a book mark. On the Paperwhite you had to manually adjust the frontlight for the ambient light, but the Voyage turns the light off in bright sunlight, which saves power. In dark rooms, the light matches the conditions and then slowly dims as your eyes adapt to the low light. If you find the automatic light level to be too high or low, you can still manually adjust the light- but then the Voyage remembers your preference when it encounters similar ambient light levels in the future.

Except on the Kindles, the bookmark too is automatic, since all Kindles remember the last page read and automatically open the book to that page. All of your books, not just the one you're currently reading. So unlike a paper book, you never have to fumble around for your bookmark before closing your book. 

On the Paperwhite and the previous Touch, page turns were done by tapping or swiping the screen. I found this to be more obtrusive than clicking the page turn buttons on the bezels of the non-touchscreen Kindles. I'm not sure why- turning physical pages is even more obtrusive. But the good news is that on the Voyage you can turn pages any way you like- by squeezing the page turn zones on the bezel, or by swiping or trapping the screen. Paper books limit you to just one page turn method, and you have to use two hands.

I'm so used to the dictionary look up on the Kindles that I've actually found myself tapping a word in a paper book to look it up, and then experienced a brief flash of annoyance when it failed to work.

And unlike reading on a tablet or a phone, there are no built-in interruptions on the Voyage (or any other e-ink Kindle). You can't check your email, get interrupted by a phone call or text message, be tempted to play a game. The Voyage doesn't make a sound. Because it can't. And that's a good thing.

To be fair, the Amazon Fire tablets have a great feature called Quiet Time. This lets you turn off notifications manually or during a set time period so that you can read undisturbed.

Of course, I'm primarily talking about reading fiction and non-fiction without photographs and color illustrations. Illustrated books are best read on a color tablet or even (gasp!) in physical, paper book form.

So I've had it with people who say they only like to read "real" books. The Voyage is more real. Really. Just don't forget to mute your smart phone while you're reading.

No comments:

Post a Comment