Amazon usually releases its new Kindle line-up in September or October. However, this year there were strong rumours there wouldn’t be a new Kindle, at least not an ereader. There were two reasons often cited for this. First, what was there to improve on last year’s Paperwhite? Colour eInk screens are still not that good (muddy colours) and Amazon wants their products to be as perfect as possible. Second, there haven’t been any rumours or leaks of any new features.
Everyone was very surprised that suddenly the Kindle Voyage turned up on one or two Amazon websites and were quickly pulled again last week. With the proverbial cat out of the bag Amazon released the new Kindle Voyage and the new basic Kindle (touch screen) for pre-order.
The previous basic Kindle, without a touch screen, seems to have been retired and a (possibly) update version of the Kindle Touch has taken its place for $79/$99 (with and without special offers). The Paperwhite is also still available for $119/$139. The new Kindle Voyage seems to be Amazon’s new premium model at $199/$219 for the wifi model or if you want the 3G version $269/$289.
The Voyage brings back the page turn buttons, although they aren’t mechanical buttons anymore but sensors. They work on pressure and have haptic feedback to let you know when you pressed hard enough. According to the manual you can turn the sensor on and off, you can select how much feedback is given or switch it off and you can set how much pressure should trigger a page turn.
I’m glad the page turn buttons/sensors made a come back. Last year I bought a Kobo Aura HD and really missed them. Many people wanted the buttons back because it takes less movement and effort to press your thumb down than to move it to the right part of the screen to swipe or tap. I missed it mainly because I hate a smudged screen.
Another change is that the screen is now flush with the bezel. Which means no more crumbs, dust and cat hairs getting caught in the little space between the screen and the bezel.
A new feature that is “coming soon” to the Kindle Voyage is Word Wise. Where short definitions automatically pop up over difficult words. I’m not so sure I like this. How does the Kindle determine if I find a word difficult or not. I hope, and expect, it’s possible to switch this feature off.
Also you can now let the Kindle decide how bright the lighting should be. Unlike a tablet, there won’t be sudden brightness changes, Amazon promises that the light will slowly decrease of the ambient lighting in the room becomes lower.
The new Kindle Voyage is released in the US on 21 October and in the UK on 4 November. However, if you haven’t already pre-ordered in the US and you want one you won’t be getting it until the week of 14 December. Despite it’s steep price it seems its very popular.
After returning to my simple, non-touch Kindle a while ago I did miss some of the Aura HD’s features. The backlight, which makes it easier to read in darker rooms and the automatically switching on and off of the device when opening or closing the case. I somewhat missed the ease of tapping on the screen for looking up a word instead of having to move the cursor to the right place. I was already thinking of getting a Paperwhite, despite it not having page turn buttons. I’m glad I waited because I really like the look of the Voyage.
However, it isn’t available for international customers. Because I’m Dutch and there isn’t a Dutch Amazon store, yet, I have to order from the US and the only options I get when wanting to order a Kindle are the new Touch, the Paperwhite and the Paperwhite 3G. I hope Amazon will keep a batch of Voyages aside for the international customers and we won’t have to wait until they are in stock.
I’ve decided to not order the official case. I’m not sure I would like the flip style and I don’t think I would use the origami prop up feature much. It’s quite expensive and for a little bit more I can get a really nice Oberon case.
With the new Kindles release and having to order it in the US I’ve been looking if there are any rumours Amazon will open their Dutch stores soon. I’d already read that Amazon was talking to several Dutch publishers about making their books available in the Kindle store but there are now also rumours that Amazon wants to open their Dutch store soon, some even say it will happen this month (but with only a couple of days left I’m not holding my breath). However, those rumours have been going around off and on for several years now. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed it will happen soon and I’m keeping the fingers of my other hand crossed that the Kindle Voyage will be available for (pre)order right away.