With last week’s hubbub about Apple’s new iPhone 6/6 Plus and the iOS 8 update, you may have missed Amazon’s big announcement of its 2014 Kindle models. No fear, The Wonder of Tech is here to keep you up to date with everything you need to know about Amazon’s latest entries into the ereader market.
Kindle introduced a brand new model to its line of ereaders and updated two existing models, making your decision of which ereader to get a wee bit more challenging. You now have your choice between the Kindle Voyage, Kindle Paperwhite and basic Kindle.
Storage space on all three models is twice that of last year’s Kindles, 4 GB vs. 2 GB. Kindles hold thousands of books so chances are space won’t become an issue on your Kindle, no matter what model you have.
Here’s what you need to know about the 2014 Kindles and how you can choose between them.
Amazon’s newest Kindle is the Voyage, which is like the deluxe version of the Kindle Paperwhite. The company took its Paperwhite model and added new features to make the Voyage the Cadillac of Kindles.
Like the Paperwhite, the Voyage has an illuminated screen to make reading in low light more comfortable. The screen is not backlit, the light shines on the screen, not into your eyes, to reduce eyestrain. The Voyage screen is 39% brighter than the Paperwhite.
One of the Voyage’s most innovative feature is a light sensor that adjusts brightness based on the light in the room. The sensor dims or brightens the screen gradually so your eyes adjust slowly to the light.
The words appear sharper on the screen with a resolution of 300 ppi (pixels per inch), compared to 221 ppi for the Paperwhite and 167 ppi for the basic Kindle. The screen of the Voyage is covered by a higher quality glass that is stronger, clearer, and reflects less glare.
The Voyage also has PagePress sensors on the bezel, you gently tap the edge with your thumb to turn the page.
If you want the slimmest Kindle, then you’ll want the Voyage. At 0.30 in/7.6 mm thin, the Voyage is exactly as thin as the iPhone 5s.
This video shows you the Voyage in action:
I’m pretty sure that paper shapes don’t actually emerge from the screen, but I haven’t tested a Voyage yet so I can’t be 100% certain…
The Kindle Voyage is available from Amazon:
- $199 with Special Offers
- $219 without Special Offers
Wi-Fi + 3G
- $269 with Special Offers
- $289 without Special Offers
The Voyage is back-ordered and currently ships the week of November 23.
Kindle Paperwhite 2014 Edition
In addition to having twice the storage space of last year’s model, the new Kindle Paperwhite’s front-lit screen is brighter and its speed is faster than previous generations of Paperwhite. Other features of the Paperwhite remain the same as last year’s model.
The Paperwhite is available from Amazon now for:
- $119 with Special Offers
- $139 without Special Offers
Wi-Fi + 3G
- $189 with Special Offers
- $209 without Special Offers
The basic Kindle has been upgraded to include a touch screen. No more clumsy navigation around the screen with buttons, just tap the screen to turn pages, access menus, etc.
The 2014 model is 20% faster with an improved processor. The storage space has been doubled to 4 GB.
The basic Kindle is available from Amazon in Wi-Fi only:
- $79 with Special Offers
- $99 without Special Offers
This model begins shipping October 2.
Which Kindle to Get?
If you’re trying to choose among the different models of Kindle ereaders, your decision will be determined by your budget and the features you need.
Here’s a chart from Amazon showing you the differences between the Kindle ereaders:
You can see a larger version of this chart on any of the three Kindle pages on Amazon’s website.
What’s worth the splurge?
Basic Kindle vs. Paperwhite
If you can splurge on the Paperwhite, invest the extra $40 over the basic Kindle. The front-lit screen of the Paperwhite makes a big difference when reading in the low light. You never know when you’ll be reading in a dimly lit room, plane or train so having a lit screen will be very useful.
Yes, you could get the basic Kindle and get a book light instead of getting the Paperwhite. But a book light forces you to struggle between setting it at an angle that produces less glare on the screen versus blocking your view of the text.
Voyage vs. Paperwhite
You’re probably a big fan of reading if you’re considering the Voyage over the Paperwhite in spite of the extra cost of $80. The PagePress sensors have the potential to be very useful, allowing you to turn the page with minimal distraction. I’ve often tapped my Paperwhite screen in the wrong place, resulting in unintended consequences that distract me from my reading.
I haven’t yet seen the screen of the Kindle Voyage so I can’t judge how the sharper font and higher quality glass contribute to the reading experience.
The ability to have the screen adjust brightness might be handy, or not. If you’re picky about brightness, then you might want to adjust your lighting level manually. If you’re not picky, well then you may not care about your Kindle doing the job for you.
$80 is a significant increase in price for the added features of the Voyage over the Paperwhite. But if reading really matters to you then the Voyage may be worth the splurge.
3G + Wi-Fi vs. Wi-Fi Only
The Voyage and Paperwhite are available with either Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + 3G. The 3G models have a higher purchase price but there’s no monthly fee and you can connect to the Internet anywhere the Kindle has coverage. Check out the Kindle 3G Coverage Map to see where you can use 3G networks in over 100 countries around the world.
This choice of whether to splurge on 3G largely depends on how you’ll be using your Kindle. If you’re mostly at your home, office or other place with plentiful Wi-Fi, you may want to skip the higher priced 3G model. Download your books before you leave Wi-Fi range and you’re good to go.
If you travel a lot, especially internationally, the extra one-time investment in 3G may make for a more enjoyable Kindle experience. Avid reader may want to avoid being stuck without Wi-Fi and being unable to buy or download a book.
Special Offers vs. Ad-Free
You can reduce the price of your Kindle by $20 if you’re willing to see Special Offers. These appear only as screen savers and on your home screen, not while you’re reading content on your Kindle.
You may want to save yourself $20 and try the Special Offers to see if you like them. You may find deals you like and/or discover that the Special Offers don’t bother you at all.
If you later decide that you don’t want to see the Special Offers you can always turn them off by paying Amazon $20.
What do you think of this year’s crop of Kindle ereaders? Are you excited about the new features of the Voyage, such as PagePress and its light sensor? Which features do you think are worth the splurge? Let us know in the Comments section below!
* Books image (edited) by wackystuff via Flickr and Creative Commons