After a few hints, nudges, wistful sighs, and a lot of eyelash fluttering, The Hero surprised me with a Kindle Voyage for my birthday this year 🙂
I own a second generation Kindle and one of its biggest drawbacks is the lack of a light. It’s messy to deal with a clip on to read in a dark room (and deal with the batteries for that) and if you can’t read in a dark room, you might as well buy a dead-tree book. I’ve used the Kindle app on my phone but a bright screen in a dark room – or anywhere else – is a bad idea for the eyes.
I love the light on the Kindle Voyage. The lights can go from very dim to very bright and the Voyage has an adaptive front light which you can caliberate. I personally prefer to keep the light off when I don’t need it and I’m not too particular about the paperwhite effect. Amazon advises you to keep the light low in a dark room and that works perfectly. I haven’t experienced eye strain despite endless Pratchett marathons. I’m sure you aren’t supposed to be looking at lights no matter how dim or bright in the night but a mom’s got to do what a mom’s got to do to get her reading fix.
The device is light weight and the page turns are great. I don’t care much for the page press but if you like the idea of a physical button, it’s nice. The display is clear and kind on aging eyes (heh, a bit of belated birthday drama). I love being able to adjust the font, text size, margins, and spacing. It was a little funny to read a paperback after reading on the Voyage for a few days. I’m a bit bookmark challenged and I’m always losing my place. After getting used to my preferred granny-friendly font the paperback text felt a bit tiny. However, I’ll still take a paper book over an e-book any day for reasons that will follow.
But first, a look at the other features. I love the X-Ray feature that allows you to keep track of characters and it would be useful for very long books with complex family trees (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo?) or books resumed after a while. I also like the word lookup feature. I’ve always been too lazy to look up a dictionary so this helps. There are a few other features that I can’t name because I don’t use them 🙂
The Amazon India Kindle store has some issues with processing payments and I’ve had two incidents already. They suggest you have a pre-loaded gift card that you use for your Kindle purchases. Sounds good but it’s still annoying.
All said, the Voyage cannot replace paper books for me. An e-reader is, ultimately, a supplemental device. You cannot lend books to friends. You cannot savour the weight of a book in your hands and the feeling of getting to the end of Lord of the Rings. It’s still hard to flip back and forth between pages though the X-Ray feature does allow it a lot more than before. It’s still an electronic device and you have to behave yourself while reading – no reading cookbooks in the kitchen, for instance. It’s also pretty terrible at rendering anything but text so comics, graphic novels, books with illustrations, etc are out. The Kindle is a great vacation companion and good for reading on the go especially during long commutes. It minimizes carry on clutter and you can never be bored with all your books with you.
If you’re trying to decide which Kindle to buy, here’s a quick how to choose a Kindle checklist:
Buy the basic Kindle if: You read a limited number of books and don’t need the screen light. It’s gentler on the eyes and makes a good travel companion. Also good for reading IAS prep books on the go, I’m told.
Buy the Paperwhite if: You read extensively and you’re ok with there already being a device on the market that’s better than yours. The light makes it much more portable than the basic Kindle and the display resolution is mid-way between the Kindle and the Voyage. Having a light also means you can read while commuting. Single handed reading is always a bonus on Namma Chennai autos when you’re using one hand to hold on for dear life.
Buy the Voyage if: You read extensively and prefer to hold on to a device for longer. If you’re not quick to abandon electronics, it’s better to buy something that will stand up to comparisons for longer. This device also has the best display of all the available models.
In all cases, I do not think the 3G is worth it. Wifi is pretty ubiquitous these days anyway and most smartphones can also create a wifi hotspot if needed. Why bother?
There are two very important negatives to consider. One, we’re not exactly buying these ebooks. It’s more like a license. If Amazon chooses to change its sales/licensing model, it could pull all books off the Cloud and we wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it.
Two, more importantly, what data does Amazon collect? They do collect reading time, highlights, and notes but they’re very dodgy about providing the details. I cannot control a single thing about it or manage my privacy which makes the whole thing quite creepy. I think I’ll still be buying some of my books offline in regular bookstores. Maybe even with cash.