Amazon Launches the Kindle Voyage, Will Charge an Arm and a Leg

Kindle-VoyageWith the cat long out of the bag, Amazon officially launched the Kindle Voyage Wednesday night. This new Kindle model is everything that the TechCrunch story from last November said it would be. It sports a 6" E-ink screen with a screen resolution of 1440 x 1080, or 300 dpi. It has a touchscreen, an adaptive frontlight with ambient light sensors, and those fancy page turn sensors which I am dying to try out.

In many ways this is a souped up, premium version of the existing Kindle Paperwhite, and since it has many of the same features as that well-known I won't repeat them here.

But I do notice that there are a few improvements, in addition to those light sensors. Amazon is boasting that this is new Kindle is their thinnest yet; at 7.6mm, it is even thinner than the recently discontinued basic Kindle. And at 6.3 ounces, it is also noticeably lighter than the Kindle Paperwhite.

Speaking of which, the Paperwhite will not be going anywhere. It's going to stay at its current price point, and keep the 4GB of storage. It's now Amazon's mid-tier ereader, with a price and features in between the $79 Kindle (or Paperwhite Junior, as I think it should be called), and the $199 Kindle Voyage.

Yes, the Kindle Voyage is going to cost $199 - for the Wifi and ad-subsidized version. The 3G model will cost more, with the highest price point at $289. Both models are expected to ship on 21 October.

That price point is going to make the Kindle Voyage a damned expensive ereader. It will cost more than the Kobo Aura H2O, which will sell for $179 and has a larger screen and pretty design.

While I understand why Amazon is charging so much (production costs for the screen and other components), I think the price tag on the Voyage may be a mistake. It is far more than I am willing to pay for a 6" ereader with no sound or card slot - high resolution screen or no.

I have been thinking about the Voyage ever since the news leaked this morning, and this might surprise you but if I were choosing between the KV or one of the two 6.8" ereaders on the market (Kobo Aura H2O or Onyx Boox t68 Lynx), I would go for the latter. I like the bigger screen over the sharper screen.

I've been wanting a Kindle with a 6.8" screen ever since the Aura HD appeared last year. If it had launched today I would have already pre-ordered. Alas, Amazon continues to disappoint.

But that's just me; what do you think of the new Kindle?

About Nate Hoffelder (11394 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: "I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

60 Comments on Amazon Launches the Kindle Voyage, Will Charge an Arm and a Leg

  1. No Sound = No Thanks

  2. While I like it, at $199 it is a no go for me. It doesn’t offer much of an upgrade, in my opinion, to my 2nd generation Paperwhite.

  3. I’m a bit disappointed and wish I could bring myself to make the leap to a Kobo but I preordered this anyway. I know I’m a sucker. I was going to order it no matter what. I even upgraded from the first gen Paperwhite to the second. I use my Kindle more than any other device I own including my iPhone.

  4. High density screens are great, but an increase in screen size can offset a partial loss in density since you can hold it farther away and more comfortably. If they had gone with that resolution but at 6.8 I could maybe see paying that price.

    Here’s the thing. 6″ (and to a lesser degree, 5″) is great for on the go because it’s still usable with one hand. In my case my hand is big enough to wrap around my Kobo Aura (and the Glo before that) and use my thumb and the tip of my ring finger to flip pages. I hold it like that since public transportation here is anything but smooth and I don’t want to drop it or “lose” it. If the ride were smoother/safer I could set the touch zones for easy use with one hand in a more comfortable position. I would like a bigger screen but it doesn’t fit my use case scenario. Now there are many ereaders at affordable prices from all the companies which is what you’ll likely find in the bag of the student who lugs it around campus or the guy who takes 3 jam packed buses to work because it shaves half an hour off his commute versus the more comfortable ride on one bus which happens to take the scenic route (I’m actually both examples given). If I buy a luxury ereader (which is what the H2O and the Voyage are), then it is to read while curled up in a comfy armchair or lounging in the garden or some similar sitch. A bigger screen works quite well in that kind of scenario.

    Also, people like bigger. I remember reading the results of polls/surveys or some such that when buying a new TV the most important thing was size and THEN picture quality.

    Now ereaders are not TVs but 6.8″ is still close enough to 6″ that the size doesn’t make it niche (though the price might) yet different enough to be noticeable.

    So yeah, personally 199 is too much for this offering. Especially since that is ad-subsidized. I’m guessing that the ad-free version means a 30-50 dollar price increase over the H2O.

    • You don’t (normally) carry your tv in your pocket. 🙂
      Stationary, yes; bigger is better.
      Handheld? Weight and pocketability matter.

      • You missed the part where I mentioned that as luxury readers these are more likely to be used exclusively in the home where pocketability doesn’t really matter (weight yes, pocketability no).

  5. Yes, the price is too high. I am not paying $199 for an e-reader. For the low-end Kindle, it is now $79, but it has no light and I won’t buy it. Will Amazon keep selling the Paperwhite 2? If not, I need to switch to another brand that sells lighted e-reader at about $119 after my present one dies.

  6. I concur. I have always thought that 6 inches is way too small. It’s about the size of the cheapest mass market paperbacks, and it gives a kind of claustrophobic reading experience. Incredibly stupid to release a “premium” e-reader in that size. Very disappointing, amazon!

    • It’s all based on need. I am constantly on the go and on planes, and need something that fits in a jacket pocket. I don’t find it stupid at all, in fact if it was bigger than 6 inches I would NOT have preordered it as it would have been less useful for me. I have a larger screen Fire and I never use it, the screen is too big for comfortable carry during travel.

  7. And the winner is: Kobo’s Aura H2O.

    Reasons are:
    -6.8″ Carta display
    -waterproof design
    -microSD card slot
    -price

    Its greatest imperfection is the lack of Bluetooth. Yes, those touch pressure sensors from the Voyage would also be great, but then you could go on and on. All things considered, I’d still pick the H2O, if one of Kindle Voyage, Aura H2O or T68 had to be chosen. For me, it is the clear winner among those three (assuming, however, that custom firmware can be used on any of those devices; otherwise, the lack of landscape mode would put the H2O at a considerable disadvantage).

    • From what I understand you can use alternate reader programs on the Kobo hardware. I’ve never bothered to do so myself but I’ve seen the threads for it on mobileread.

    • Any chance that we will be able to do auto-organization like my PRS-350 did 4 YEARS AGO where the series organization I worked hard on in Calibre can be directly transferred? If I can’t organize without standing around poking the screen for days, I can’t use the reader.

  8. I’m not a Kindle user myself, but was expecting a larger screen or even a color e-paper device.
    As for size, there are enough Kindle users out there for whom a larger size is important to justify a larger model in the Kindle range. 8 in. would have been great for bedside reading.
    As for color, I would have thought the Liquavista guys would come up with something by now.

  9. I’ve got a Kobo aura hd , before that I had a pw1 – and I don’t think I could go back to a 6 inch screen, ever. Might not sound like much, a 0.6 inch gain, but in reality it is a real difference!

    That being said, those pagepress thingies sound very, very interesting.
    Had Amazon made this a 6.8, 7, or (one can dream 8) inch luxury reader I’d be preordering a whole batch right now.

    …So aura h2O it is, I guess. Write that review, please! 🙂

  10. I am disappointed with the new kindle. I have the Kobo Aura HD and love the larger screen but am not too happy with Kobo’s book inventory. I have the PW2 but after reading on Kobo’s larger screen I am not as fond of the PW as I was before. I really hoped the next Kindle would be the 6.8 if not 7 inch screen which I would have pre- ordered in a second no matter the cost. This newest one is a pass fir me.

  11. I bought a Paperwhite that I never use. Buying it was a mistake. Reading on it is a horrible experience.

    I read on my iPad, and on my phone if I’m waiting in a queue somewhere.

    USD $289 is a lot to pay just for an e-reader. The 300 dpi screen resolution makes me think that Amazon’s targeting those readers clinging to print.

  12. Good, now Kobo may bring out an improved Glo.

  13. Mashable has a review which seems pretty fawning: http://mashable.com/2014/09/17/amazon-kindle-voyage-ereader/

    I don’t see a lot worth the $199 price-tag (for me anyway). I’m still motoring along on my trusty Kindle 4 – almost 3 years old now and still going strong. Although I’m tempted to upgrade to the new $79 touch which is almost as light as the Voyage.

  14. I have mixed feeling about this. The resolution is a much due improvement, but will it be enough to allow new uses for the Kindle? I mean, we have almost a resolution good enough to read B&W mangas on a Kindle, but the paperwhite resolution was definitely not enough. Sure, it will be good and make the Baskerville font usable with no visual glitches, but I do not know if it is enough to justify the premium price.
    About the screen size, being a heavy commuter in high people density trains, I’d rather have a 6″ screen than anything bigger; it is easier to handle it single-hand in a crowd.
    About the ambient light detection, it is a gimmick. I mean, I never use high light settings as it has a less paperlike feel to it. So I keep it low, and if the lights goes off (that’s french trains for you), I still have enough light to read or in worst case to set it manually to a brighter setting.

    I guess I’ll compare it with a hands on with the last Kobo and pick the best for my usages patterns.

    • That’s one of the reasons I bought the Aura instead of the Aura HD. I can’t imagine being able to turn pages AND keep a g I od firm grip on an e-reader larger than 6″ on crowded public transport.

  15. I suspect they’re supply-constrained.
    They priced it high to throttle back demand until they can get enough screens to support a lower price.
    Plus, if they were too close in price to the PW2 they might squeeze it out.
    As is, they have a nice buffer to protect the PW2 and room to relaunch next spring at a lower price.
    It’s not unlike new gaming consoles launching at a high price to farm the early adopters and then over time dropping in price to fit the budget of mainstream buyers.
    The Kindle Voyage is an upgrader’s device, primarily; a step-up reader for people already invested in Kindles.

    Remember, most Kindle owners are not tech enthusiasts or ebook hobbyists. To them the pricing of a Kobo is as relevant as an Onyx, pocketbook, or a back scratcher. They’re already committed to the Kindle platform and aren’t going to switch–cross-platform comparisons will matter more to newcomers to ebooks and for them the comparison is PW2 vs Aura and Kindle Touch2 vs… what? Who else is playing at that price?

    We’re looking at classic good-better-best marketting, which segments the market and targets different kinds of customers with devices aimed at their budgets. In car terms, you have a Yaris, Camry, and Avalon. One is basic transportation, one is “affordable” luxury, but the big seller is the mid-sizer.

    So, yes; KT2 went up $10 because they added touch…and because nobody else is in the $80 range for basic ebook readers. PW2 got more storage and kept its pricde to better match up with Nook and Kobo and because it is their mainstream reader. They want it to be their top seller. And Voyage is the shiny aspirational model–enough added tweaks and premium fit-n-finish to entice upgraders, but priced “just a bit outside” the comfort zone of the mainstream.

    Welcome to modern marketting in mature markets.

    • For me at least, it’s all about the store. I have had a beautiful Kobo Aura HD for 18 months now, but never use it because the store drives me bonkers (and books are much more expensive). I think as long as the Kindles keep reasonable pace with the competition, they’ll continue to grab the biggest slice of the market by far. Amazon seems to be the only one who gets that the store is as important as the device (if not more so).

  16. I ordered both the Voyager and the new basic. Occupational necessity.

  17. As an owner of an Aura HD I can tell you that the extra screen size IS NOT WORTH IT because they use up so so much real estate on white space that the Paperwhite displays more words per screen at the same font size and spacing. So you have a heavier, clunky reader that displays less words than the Paperwhite. On top of that the cheap plastic bezel does not make the HD feel like a luxury device.

    Honestly, what does a slightly larger screen really do for you besides lose the ability to stuff it in your pocket? I’ll be pre-ordering the Voyage. I’m glad that I can finally have an ereader that will have the sharpness and clarity that paper books have.

    • You are aware that you can set margins and line spacing to your own liking on a Kobo?

    • There’s a simple hack to remove the header and footer from the Kepubs (ebooks bought from Kobo). It will give you more screen real estate.
      http://www.mobileread.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2924759#post2924759

    • The margins are similarly wasteful on a PW. Very limiting. At least on the Kobo you have the option to root it and install a 3rd-party reading app that does allow true full-screen (Aireader).

      • FYI, what you call wasteful is considered as highly readable by the typography people. Typographic rules have been written for ages, and if MS Word is the corporate standard with its tiny margins does not mean it is the golden standard.
        The Kindle do not allow natively to reduce this margin on the reader, only to increase it. The minimum margins are always hard coded into the ebooks, so if you strip the DRMs from these, you can adjust them reasonably easily (you got to know CSS, of course) in Calibre. It’s a bit technical of course, but once you know it, it’s braindeadly simple.
        I routinely change paragraphs spacing to my taste as I do not like the www-like spacing. So, it’s your call.

        • I read on FBreader and Coolreader and both can be set to ignore any hard coded formatting without knowing a thing about CSS. Overdrive, too. In fact most third-party reading apps let you do it. Only the vendor apps limit your options.

  18. I have given up on sound, I will keep my KKs running as along as possible. However the page turn “buttons” on the Voyager sound very promising (I don’t like to swipe pages). I’m a wait-and-see-er (but I remember paying over $300 for the first Kindle!)

  19. Too expensive for a 6” reader. Nothing really new that i wanted. This is:

    Hardware
    6,8” + Sound + Althought finally someting like turnpage buttons
    I like waterproof concept in Kobo, really an improvement to avoid lost your reader if it rains.

    Firmware
    More Margin options
    More Font sizes
    Posibility to add your favorite fonts
    Posibility to star the book in the cover
    Posibility to put the cover as screen saver

    Those are the features i’ll like to see in the kindle. I think that 199 for a 6” eink screen voyager it’s going to have the same succeed than kindle phone.

    • I have spent much time with my first gen Kindle PW under moderate rain, and it fares still good. It is 2 years old and still running. The trick is probably that you must not keep it horizontal when you read outside but almost vertical, so that almost no rain slips in it.

    • Now this would be a good value at 200 frigging dollars. The Voyage, not so much.

  20. For me 199 is too much for an ad supported model and 250 is too much for an ereader, period. Though a 99 buck tablet…not bad.

  21. I have used the Kindle since version 1 and Amazon’s strategy is still sometimes confusing to me. They tout Whispersync but continue to release Kindles without sound. I stopped getting Kindles with the last touch model prior to the Paperwhite release. I’ll keep using it until the thing falls apart (no indication that it’s slowing down yet). After that, I will probably just use my Nexus 5.

    Trying to force me to get a Kindle Fire by releasing products with incomplete features won’t work.

  22. It looks to me like Amazon is really concentrating on the $80 end of the market. They seem more interested in developing their ecosystem than their hardware, and their new Amazon Kids initiative and partnership with the National Parent Teachers Assoc. in the US seems to also point to the idea of getting kids used to reading on a Kindle.

    Given the average size of young children the 6-inch Kindle is larger in their hands than a 6.8-inch is in the hands of an adult.

  23. Some points I’d like to make:

    First, the price. I ordered the wi-fi model without special offers and on the order confirmation it says: $219.00 (or less). I don’t remember seeing the “or less” on back orders before even though I understand that if the price drops on an Amazon item before shipping, you do get the lower price. I am wondering if they threw out these prices to see what consumer reaction would be, intending to drop them if necessary.

    Whispersync books are more easily listened to on a smaller and more portable device. I listen in the Audible app on my iPhone when I am driving or moving about the house, and then switch back to the Kindle when I have time to sit down and read, so lack of sound is not an issue for me and should not be for anyone who has a smart phone or iPod Touch.

    I am at the age where good contrast is everything and the Voyage purports to have better contrast than the current Paperwhite so yes, the new screen will be an improvement. I do wish they had provided smaller increments between the font sizes, however. Those on the Voyage are identical to the Paperwhites and sometimes it is a matter of one that is too small, but the next step up is too big.

    It is my understanding that the automatic light sensor can be turned off on the Voyage so for those who don’t want it (and I am probably one of them), it should not be an issue.

    • Mary, I don’t see how the Voyage has better contrast than the current Paperwhite. They both use the same Carta screen with the same contrast ratio, or am I missing something?

      • Those who saw it at the secret unveiling say that it has higher contrast which is noticeably better. I’m just going by what they have said. I have 30 days to return it if it is a dud but I doubt that it will be.

        • I’m not sure I would believe a report from an event as chaotic as a launch event – not unless it came from an expert. Also, if E-ink had boosted the contrast and resolution I bet they would have taken the opportunity to stick a new name on the screen tech, that’s simply good marketing.

          Do you have a link?

          • I’ve been all over the place reading Kindle Voyage reviews today, also reviews of iOS8 so I am lucky I know my own name. Len Edgerly was at one of the events and has a review in his Kindle Chronicles:

            http://www.thekindlechronicles.com/

          • Well, shoot. Like all the other videos I saw, he compares the Voyage to the Pearl screen on the other new Kindle. That doesn’t help any because we already knew that Carta had a whiter screen and better contrast.

            I have yet to find someone who compares Voyage to Paperwhite.

    • What is your shipping date on the non-SO? I noticed some people posting on the Amazon Kindle forum were getting November ship dates on non-SO Kindles and got an earlier date when they changed it to SO. Of course, you can pay to remove special offers after you get it.

      • My shipping date on the Voyage without special offers is 10/21, but then I ordered it today (9/18) at 6:30 this morning, central time. I too saw the late November dates on the Kindle forum so am glad I ordered early. I’ve been at this Kindle ordering since the very first one in 2007 when they sold out in 6 hours. I didn’t get to that one till around December 20th and had to wait till late January 2008 before I received it. So it’s just better to order one as quickly as possible since it’s a simple matter to cancel the order later if you change your mind.

        • You got in under the wire. I’m not sure if Amazon really had a limited initial supply or the Voyage is being preordered at a more rapid pace than they anticipated. As far as past Kindle preorders, I placed an order for the K3 quickly and got mine the day before its debut but others didn’t get shipments for a couple of months past launch day in 2010.

    • The Voyage has a brighter light than the PW 2 NOT better contrast. The light doesn’t change contrast, that is only determined by the screen. Contrast is the ratio of white luminance to black luminance. Increasing the brightness of the light increases the luminance of white, but also the luminance of black preserving the contrast ratio.

  24. Amazon seems to be working on the premise that dedicated readers are a wealthy, niche market. Meanwhile, full featured tablets are for the masses. Or they may have simply decided that dedicated ereaders have no future at all and just want to milk the market for what they can in the short term.

    They are breaking the 20 year norm where consumer electronics get significantly cheaper and more feature rich over time. A $200 6″ Kindle is a pathetic joke really. I expected to see something like a $49 basic model and a $99 advanced model that improved on the PW.

  25. I’m not paying $199!!! I wish Amazon would have just took the existing Kindle PW2 and added page turning buttons!!! That would satisfy my e-book reader needs.

  26. I have a Kindle 2 that works just fine. I have been eying up a kindle paperwhite for awhile and the new kindle voyage does sound interesting, the $199 price tag does not. I think I’ll wait to see if they drop the price of it like they did with the phone.

    • Lauren, I would not be surprised if they dropped the price, but if they do, it won’t quite be like the phone—from $199 to 99 cents. More likely $25 or $50. It will be interesting to see what they do. My daughter is still using my old Kindle 2 and as you say, it’s working just fine. But the difference between Voyage and K2 has to be stunning.

  27. I put my still working in every way k2us (that I paid many more dollars than $199 for) on the floor this morning and told the puppy to go for it. She’s licked it a couple of times.

    I can’t justify that kind of money when I have fully functional ereader in addition to a basic kindle but when one of them goes, I’ll be placing my order quickly.

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