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Thank you FearIndex for your detailed reviews of the PW2, Voyage, and now the Kobo Aura H2O. After reading about issues with the Kindle Voyage, which I had high hopes for, I went to the "darkside" and ordered the Kobo Aura H2O with the matching case. I'm looking forward to a larger screen, even lighting, better contrast, improved readability in poor lighting, choice of many fonts, and more configuration options. Now for the 7-10 day wait.
 

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FearIndex said:
As I mentioned in the other thread, my search for the perfect e-ink reading experience seems to continue - or stay put, if you want to look at it this way. The Kindle Voyage I have is not working out due to too dim top part of the screen, making the rest of the ponderings quite academic.
Just posted my review of my first impression and it looks like our eyes are seeing he exact same thing on the Kindle Voyage. Feel your pain. Have you tried the Aura 6" with the lighting? (not the newest waterproof one) curious if that's a good one lightwise.
 

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Discussion Starter #244
Thanks, guys. :)

northofdivision said:
Just posted my review of my first impression and it looks like our eyes are seeing he exact same thing on the Kindle Voyage. Feel your pain. Have you tried the Aura 6" with the lighting? (not the newest waterproof one) curious if that's a good one lightwise.
I have heard many times that Kobo's latest two generations (Kobo Aura H20, the waterproof one, included in that) have been good light evenness-wise, but I have no personal experience of the predecessor. I will be posting more experiences on the Kobo Aura H20, though, as I get them.

Kindle does of course have a superior bookstore experience, and in some ways superior software, but when just in a book reading it, Kobo does have better configurability for various things like fonts, controls, status indicators, screen refresh frequency and the like. Kobo isn't quite as smooth as Kindle software-wise, but then when in a book, that doesn't really matter much.

simonz said:
Thank you FearIndex for your detailed reviews of the PW2, Voyage, and now the Kobo Aura H2O. After reading about issues with the Kindle Voyage, which I had high hopes for, I went to the "darkside" and ordered the Kobo Aura H2O with the matching case. I'm looking forward to a larger screen, even lighting, better contrast, improved readability in poor lighting, choice of many fonts, and more configuration options. Now for the 7-10 day wait.
Thank you and good luck!

I look forward to hearing your experiences with the Kobo Aura H20. When I have time and more experience under my belt, I will jot down something more coherent about the Kobo here too.

By the way, lest it sound that way to anyone, it is not my intention to hype up the Kobo at the cost of Kindle either. Kindle does have many strongsuits and I appreciate what Amazon is doing. My Kindle Voyage 3G remains on order. But it has to be said again, the Kobo Aura H20 screen really is a lot better than any Kindle I've seen, so in that department Kobo is better and since that is the entire reason for being for this thread, I have focused on that in my initial impressions. Kindle may be better in other areas and I hope to explore and talk about that later on.
 

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The only issue with Kobo is that their customer service is terrible. I actually switched from Kobo to Kindle because of this. I had the Kobo Glo and after 3 months it stopped working. I called customer service and they claimed that since I "couldn't prove" that I didn't break it myself (I didn't, I just went to use it one day & the screen was frozen. I tried everything. It's been over a year and it's still frozen sitting in the box) that they wouldn't do anything. They suggested that I buy another one. They were very rude, so I switched to Kindle.
 

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My Kobo Aura H2O arrived a few days ago and I've had a chance to use it. Here are my first impressions of the Kobo vs the PW2.

The Kobo screen is beautiful, large, clear, with even lighting, and great contrast. The text is crisp and doesn't have a slightly smudgy look that my PW2 has. Because of its slightly large size, reading with the Kobo feels like a hardcover book vs. the PW2 like a paperback. There are several fonts faces and options to choose from. My favorite font option is the setting for "Font Weight" (boldness). Also, the line spacing on the Kobo has several settings vs 3 on the PW2. I have always been frustrated with the Kindle fonts as they always seemed to thin to me and have now way to make them bolder.

The Kobo UI is not as responsive and intuitive as the Kindle. This is where the PW2 shines. On the Kobo there are times when it takes a couple of touches before it recognized, this is especially true when setting check boxes in the Settings interface. The PW2 has a nice and snappy virtual keyboard; on the Kobo I often pressed the wrong keys and sometimes I had to press twice to get it to respond.  The page turns on the Kobo are slower than on the PW2. Page turns on both devices work on every press. The Kobo has an adjustable page refresh rate from 1-6 page turns vs the PW2 has on/off setting. One nice built in touch setting on the Kobo is that a vertical swiping left side of screen adjusts screen brightness without going to a menu.

The Amazon ecosystem is really nice so that readings can be synced across several devices and with books not purchased on Amazon. With the Kobo system, this is possible for books purchased from Kobo only. I'll continue to purchase my books on Amazon and use Kobo for side loaded books.

I'll will use both the Kobo and PW2. For home use and extended reading sessions the Kobo. For when I'm out and about, the PW2. 







 

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Discussion Starter #248
Thank you for the very thorough first impressions post, simonz, your experiences are very much in line with mine - Kobo Aura H20 has superior screen, superior frontlight and configurability and on the flipside Kindle gets some wins on ecosystem and software usability/speed. Anyway, Kobo Aura H20 continues to impress overall and I'll try to find time to really review it later on. In any case, the Kobo screen REALLY is that good, I have no bad words about the screen or its frontlight and that's saying a lot, coming from someone who loves e-ink but has had issues with all the past frontlit Kindles to some extent...

In the meanwhile, my Kindle Voyage 3G got bumped up to December 1st from around the 18th, so perhaps I get to compare it with the Kobo Aura H20 already next week. Not that I'm really expecting the Voayge to be much better than my first (it can be worse), but I will try this one replacement. Game of luck, unless they made manufacturing improvements for the 3G run, which seems unlikely given the schedule.

Last night I read on my Kindle (7th Generation) and the Verso clip-on light, because it was nearby and I enjoyed that. Kobo Aura H20 and Kindle (7th Generation) are probably my favorites at the moment... Kobo has the best screen and frontlight, but for a non-lit e-reader Kindle (7th Generation) is a very balanced product. Both are very similar when held in hand, being IR touch e-ink readers both with similar shapes, although Kobo is of course a little larger due to larger screen.
 

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I received my Voyage last Saturday, and returned it a few days later due to the uneven brightness/yellow tint problem reported here and elsewhere.

I used the refund to buy a Galaxy Tab S, not as a replacement, but because I have been wanting one for a while, and Samsung dropped the price $100 for the holidays. I did think I would try using it for reading ebooks until the Voyage screen problem is completely resolved, and I would buy another.

However, backlit LCDs are not comparable to e-ink when it comes to reading books.

So I just ordered a 2014 PW (now $99) to replace the Voyage that I bought to replace my PW2 which I sold to buy the Voyage :)

 

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Discussion Starter #251
GhiiZhar: Thanks for the comment and good luck with your latest order! :) Anecdotal as it may be, I have heard good things about the 2014 Paperwhite. I think just like with PW2, Amazon has been making gradual improvements to the frontlight and the Paperwhite by now is a pretty mature product. I think the Voyage will probably take a year to see significant improvement in frontlight evenness, and two years down the road be a lot less a game of luck, if the Paperwhite example is anything to go by.

Toby: I think the IRness of the basic Kindle (7th Generation) was widely reported on launch, but I'm not sure if Amazon has put it onto their website(s) per se. In any case, the IR bands are clearly visible and one of the dismantling sites also did the Kindle (7th Generation) and found the IR system inside, they posted the name of the company making it too. This photo of mine showing my first faulty Kindle (with the glue sticking out) also shows the IR band circling the screen, although poorly due to lighting...



Owning a lot of Kindles and one Kobo, it is easy to tell apart the Kindle (7th Generation) and Kobo Aura H20 due to the fact that their screens are clearly more recessed than the screens of other readers, due to that IR touch band around the screen. I don't have a Kindle Touch, but if I did I'm sure it would similarly stick out. Capacitive touch on the Paperwhites and Voyage is more even and thus hidden, although may add a bit more to the layering on top of the e-ink screen.

Edited to shrink image slightly to accommodate those using mobile devices or older monitors. Thanks for understanding. --Betsy
 

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Thanks FearIndex for letting me know. Amazon did not mention it on their page & I was wondering about it. I still have my Touch. Yes, there are no layers, because there was no lighted screen. The text is darker, but because the screen is so dark, I always have to have the Amazon Cover's light on to see the words. Not my favorite Kindle. Liked the touch aspect, not the dark screen. My Baby K5 has a much lighter screen. As you have said, screens may vary. I can't wait to see your comparison of the Kobo to the Voyage. Today, during  the day, I had the Baby K5, the PW2, & my Voyage sice by side. My Voyage has a warm yellow light that is even, but the text is darker on the V. than the PW2, which has a whiter light. If I turn the light all the way down on the PW2, the text looks as dark as the Baby. However, the fonts on the V. & the PW2 are different than the Baby. What I don't understand is why Amazon will not concentrate on the features that you mentioned that you liked on that Kobo has on it's reader. I want to adjust the size of the text & the boldness. It's either the text is too small or too large or the letters are not being bold enough. On the Baby, the letters are bolder. Why would Amazon thin the letters down! Uggg!
 

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Anyone have comparisons on the baby Kindle vs the current 79$ dollar Kindle? I went to get my hands on the latter at Best Buy and it's very clunky and chunky to me compared to the baby Kindle (The screen looked quite nice). Anyone real happy with the latter who has had the former?
 

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Discussion Starter #254
northofdivision said:
Anyone have comparisons on the baby Kindle vs the current 79$ dollar Kindle? I went to get my hands on the latter at Best Buy and it's very clunky and chunky to me compared to the baby Kindle (The screen looked quite nice). Anyone real happy with the latter who has had the former?
I'm sure you've read it, so hopefully others can help you out with opinions, but for others I will mention I broach the topic in my "$79" Kindle review - and I have both the baby Kindle and that new basic Kindle. But then I've always used them with covers, so a covered Kindle (7th Generation) feels about the same as a covered $69 Kindle 5, comparing with the official covers, since the new cover is a bit lighter built than the old one. Of course the new Kindle is larger when used without cover, though, it is built like the Kindle Touch for obvious reasons (IR touch).

Personally I have no qualms about the size or the weight of the new basic Kindle, but it is somewhat larger than the previous baby Kindle.
 

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Discussion Starter #255
Toby said:
Thanks FearIndex for letting me know. Amazon did not mention it on their page & I was wondering about it. I still have my Touch. Yes, there are no layers, because there was no lighted screen. The text is darker, but because the screen is so dark, I always have to have the Amazon Cover's light on to see the words. Not my favorite Kindle. Liked the touch aspect, not the dark screen. My Baby K5 has a much lighter screen. As you have said, screens may vary. I can't wait to see your comparison of the Kobo to the Voyage.
Thank you, Toby. :) Yes, e-ink screens definitely vary in text and background darkness even between a single generation (I have some $69 Kindle 5 comparisons in my signature). It is possible you would have been able to get a lighter screened Kindle Touch simply by exchanging it at the time even.

I will hopefully get my Voyage 3G later this week, and owing to Amazon's generous holiday season returns period I still have the current Voyage, so I will be able to compare those two units to the Kobo Aura H20 and the Kindle (7th Generation) for some further views on the matter. I'm still going to share some more experiences with the Kobo Aura H20 too, but haven't had the time yet.
 

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    I hope your next Voyage is better. I can't wait until you get it to hear from you. It could be that the yellow glow will bother you, so if the color is even on the screen, go to a book & read for awhile, which I'm sure you will do anyway, then see what you think. In other words, if the screen color is even for you, don't concentrate on the color, but concentrate on the words.
    My Voyage is still buggy when putting books in the collection, but I haven't done anything about it yet. Reading on it has been great.
 

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Discussion Starter #257
Toby said:
I hope your next Voyage is better. I can't wait until you get it to hear from you. It could be that the yellow glow will bother you, so if the color is even on the screen, go to a book & read for awhile, which I'm sure you will do anyway, then see what you think. In other words, if the screen color is even for you, don't concentrate on the color, but concentrate on the words.
My Voyage is still buggy when putting books in the collection, but I haven't done anything about it yet. Reading on it has been great.
Interestingly, it wasn't the screen color shift that bothered me on my first Voyage (although it, of course, is there), it was the diminishing light on the top part of the screen. I have read one full book on that Voyage, so it isn't impossible certainly to use it, but it never was as pleasant as I would have liked. My eyes get a bit weary at trying to make out the text at the top, while being bombarded with too much light at the bottom. When my reading scenario is a dark room with frontlight as low as possible, because I don't want to feel like looking at a screen, it definitely brings out any weaknesses in the screen much more easily than with people who may have other lighting available (daylight, bedside lamp etc.) or who prefer a high light setting on the device anyway (it is my experience high light settings help alleviate most frontlight issues).

I'm not seeking perfection on the screen by no means, I know that even LCDs and LED screens have imperfections that are inherent to those technologies (light bleed, dead pixels, some even have had color tints/fades etc.), just a balance where I can fade such things out of my mind. My first two PWs (PW1 and first PW2) were not enough, but my second PW2, while definitely not perfectly even (there are darker areas in the middle), was perfectly serviceable so that I could fade that out and go on enjoying the reading again and - indeed - enjoy the device as well.

Let's see what the Voayge number 2 brings. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #259
Got the new Kindle Voyage 3G a couple of nights ago.

I can't say it is a major improvement over the previous one, though it may be a small, if somewhat controversial improvement: It doesn't have the annoying bright pinhole glaring on the hillside every time the Kindle boots, which is good (even though it didn't bother actual reading), and it also has a slightly brighter light, which is good, and overall the light is more even, but also with a bit more pronounced color gradient than the previous one - perhaps due to the more powerful light making the bottom whiter while leaving the top yellower.

Clearly Amazon has got their work cut out for them to calibrate the light guide process so that the light is directed all the way up to the top of the screen, now it seems somewhere around the middle the frontlight starts "loosing light" even if the bottom LEDs in themselves would be powerful enough, so the top remains a little darker and yellower. Considering Kobo Aura H20 is very even, with the same setup of lights only at the bottom, and even Paperwhite 2 managing a bright top, it shouldn't be impossible. It just seems as it stands, if these examples are anything to go by, Kindle Voyage isn't quite there yet.

I have to update the review soon (and add my Kobo Aura H20 musings), but after a couple of nights the new unit seems it like a slight improvement for my reading scenario - very low frontlight levels and reading in the dark. The new unit lights up the top a little better, making a difference. On the other hand, the color gradient is visible when reading on higher light levels (on lower levels it becomes more of a brightness gradient). In any case, it does strike me how cold the Kindle Voyage (both units) frontlight is when reading on those low light levels, it makes the page seem almost blue.

I'll add one positive thing, though, now that I have the origami cover, I've actually used it at times to stand up the Kindle. Maybe I'm in the middle of some serious reading and need a snack, well, prop-up the Kindle in the kitchen and the reading doesn't have to stop. :) Still, overall I would prefer a book-like cover (and know many third party options exist) and I absolutely hate the origami cover and the rear power button getting in each others way when the Kindle has turned off while cover is still open... Rear power button, seriously Amazon? And a magnetic cover that covers that rear power button when opened? Sheesh...

Anyway, barring some unexpected product breakdown, I'm keeping the new Kindle Voyage 3G and returning the old one. I think this is what the product is like I'll not bother myself with it more, the new one corrects the pinhole and adds the 3G option, so that's nice. Next round, next year, maybe. If history is anything to go by that's how long it takes to see real improvement in the manufacturing process. Now I just have to decide in which order I expect to use the current set: Kindle (7th Generation), Kindle Voyage 3G, Kobo Aura H20 and get on with the reading. But I guess I'll have to leave something for the updated review...
 

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As always, good review, FearIndex. Thanks for sharing. I suspect you are right about the next Voyage being markedly improved.

That is certainly my experience with the Paperwhite. I returned my PW1 because of the "smudges" and pink/green (or was it blue--can't remember) issues. It took me till this past Black Friday sale to give the Paperwhite another go, and the latest version is a great improvement. It is definitely a keeper, and $99 made it a good deal.
 
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