Kindle Voyage Getting Lots of Complaints About Uneven Lighting


The Kindle Voyage was released a couple weeks ago now, and it looks like the frontlight gradient issue that I mentioned in my Kindle Voyage first impressions review is a common complaint mentioned by many among the first wave of reviews.

Looking over the user reviews at Amazon, there are 260 reviews posted for the Kindle Voyage as of this writing. Of those, 86 are “critical” reviews with three stars or less, a pretty high number considering the premium price tag of Amazon’s latest ebook reader.

Overall the Kindle Voyage currently has 3.8 stars. By comparison the 2014 basic Kindle has 4.0 stars and the Kindle Paperwhite is blowing both of them away with 4.5 stars over 20,000 reviews.

By far the #1 complaint among critical reviews is the uneven frontlight. Here are a few samples:

The top of the display is noticeably darker and sepia-toned compared to the bottom. I read on the Voyage for a half-hour to see if the effect is noticeable and the answer is: it is very distracting.

I’ve seen the reports online of users who have a “two toned” screen — blueish on the bottom, yellowish on the top. I’m afraid to say that I have experienced this as well.

There is yellow shading on the top 1/3 of the screen that you just can’t get used to due to having the issue on every page you read! Give me yellow or give me a blue tint but DON’T give me both! Don’t think you have it? Cover the middle of the screen and look at the top and bottom independently.

The reason I am sending back my Voyage is for the screen shadings. Mine is not as bad as some of the ones shown but it does have the yellow shading at the top intermixed with a bluish white as you get to the bottom of the screen. Where I settled for the blotchy screen with the PW 1, I cannot bring myself to settle for the defective screen on the Voyage.

My Kindle Voyage has the same exact issue that those reviewers mention. In fact the very first thing I noticed when I first turned the Voyage on was the light being a different color at the top of the screen than on the bottom.

Some people swear that their Kindle is free of this issue and that the lighting is 100% even. Some people think that all Kindle Voyages suffer from the problem to some degree and that some people simply cannot see it.

There may be some truth to that, but it’s hard to say. As I sit here at the desk with the Kindle Voyage in front of me, the screen does indeed look perfect. With good ambient lighting and with the frontlight set low, or when using auto-brightness, the light imperfections are completely unnoticeable. It’s when the frontlight is set to higher brightness that the different hues are most noticeable, and especially at night when there is no ambient lighting.

I do find the light gradient distracting at times, and other times I don’t notice it at all. I find it most distracting in landscape mode because every line goes from light to yellowish.

I wonder how long before Amazon starts putting a disclaimer on the product page for the Voyage saying that the lighting gradient is a feature and not a defect, as they did with the 1st gen Kindle Paperwhite and then again with last year’s Fire HDX when people started complaining about the blue border that surrounds the screen.

One interesting detail about all this is that none of the so-called “expert” reviews from any of the major tech sites mention anything about the frontlight not being even. Type “Kindle Voyage Review” into Google search and not a single one on the first page mentions a single thing about frontlight unevenness. In fact a couple of the reviews specifically say the frontlight is perfectly uniform across the entire screen.

29 Responses to “Kindle Voyage Getting Lots of Complaints About Uneven Lighting”

  1. For the price of the 1st Gen Paperwhite, I happily tolerated the uneven lighting. If I bought a Voyage, I’d be extremely pissed. I hope Amazon can fix this problem fast.

  2. So glad I went with the last gen Paperwhite instead of waiting for the Voyage. I’m totally happy with it.

  3. I am convinced now that this issue applies to all Voyage units. I received my first unit on the first pre-order shipment and noticed the problem right away. I received a replacement, which had the same issue. Another replacement, and another defective frontlight. Finally, I received a FOURTH unit as a replacement. Same problem.

    Either the frontlight supplier changed from the review units to the first bulk production batch, or the reviewers didn’t spend enough time actually reading with the device in non-flourescent (non-office) lighting.

    Four in a row seems pretty much impossible if this is a low-frequency manufacturing mistake.

    Now, I don’t want to go back to the Paperwhite because the DPI is much better on the Voyage, but I can’t pay 199 for a unit that has terribly uneven lighting.

  4. I’ve tried mine under incandescent, fluorescent, LED, and natural lighting. I definitely notice the gradient, now that everyone (seemingly) has this issue and has mentioned it, but it seems to me to be quite subtle. It’s certainly not a bother to me.

  5. The display is light level is uneven, I called Amazon customer service and they sent me a replacement unit and it exhibits the same flaw. It’s more noticeable in low light at default setting of 9, but is apparent throughout the light setting levels.

    Definitely not worth the premium costs and is not a premium reader contrary to the reviews. Maybe they are Amazon employees?

  6. Your article implies that this is widespread. Look at the complaints and you’ll see that they’re coming from a relative few.

    That’s not defending the apparent defect, that’s just saying it is far less of a problem than attention merits for those who are considering its purchase.

    I also think you’re smart enough to NOT conflate the *clearly* technology issues with the PW1 –it was the best among its many competitors at the time — and the Fire– ALL tablets leak light at the edge, the Fire’s just happens to be blue because their technology uses blue light — with the defect of a minority of units.

    You’re comments about the PaperWhite & Fire are pretty clearly sarcastic and disingenuous and really don’t help anybody.

    FWIW, my Voyage is perfectly lit with white light — no yellow, orange, pink, whatever — and most of those I know or have read about online share this experience.

    I’m not some kind of Amazon Fan Boi; in fact, I kind of prefer my jailbroken PW1 with KoReader to my Voyage & I’d recommend a gently used PW1 or a PW2 over the Voyage just *because* it can be jailbroken and Amazon’s software can be replaced.

    Still the Voyage is a VERY nice e-reader.

    • Right now there are 107 critical reviews (3 stars or less) out of 317 total at Amazon. The vast majority of critical reviews complain about the uneven light. Saying the complaints come from a relative few doesn’t make sense seeing as how Amazon requires an account to post a review, and almost all have the verified purchase tag next to them.

  7. This issue of the uneven color on the screen does seem to exist on most if not all Voyages IMHO. Out of the three replacements I received they all had some degree of shading and the first two also had pinholes. Amazon had me send them to their dev team instead of a regular return. The last on I received has this issue too but it is very slight. I think this is comparable to the 1st Paperwhite’s screen hue problem in that some people perceive the color hue difference. Try turning the device on it’s side it becomes even more noticeable. Going by my own experience and reading about others in the Kindle Voyage First Impressions thread at Mobileread I’d say that it doesn’t seem to be such an isolated issue.

  8. My Voyage screen lighting appears to be quite even. If there are imperfections, and I say if because I do not see them, they have not bothered me at all. Perhaps my eyes are not as sensitive to it or I just do not care. I love the device and the clearer print. I am a huge fan and would recommend it.

    When I purchased my first Paperwhite, I had orange, yellow and blue colors on my screen. After a while, it seemed to clear up. I do not notice it anymore and it honestly never bothered me. I was so happy to have a light in the screen and to be able to read without an external light, that pretty much anything would have made me happy.

    Just a theory, but perhaps purchasers are a bit unrealistic as to what they are buying and how perfect it should be.

  9. I think the frustration for many of us (the 25% or so of folks noticing lighting issues, if the Amazon reviews are representative) is that the Voyage was billed as a premium product and has so much potential, and this one technical defect renders it unusable for us.

    The PagePress feature is great, and the text revolution is fantastic. But, I just can’t stand the yellow cast on half the screen, especially for an established technology (e-ink with frontlighting) that worked so well in the Paperwhite 2. Also, especially for 200 bucks, the cost of a full-featured Samsung tablet.

  10. OK. I ordered a second Voyage for a Christmas gift and it came in today. Neither my Voyage, my wife’s, nor this new one show anything more than the most subtle gradient… no matter the type or amount of ambient light. Even in complete darkness with the light at maximum, I doubt I’d notice it unless it was pointed out. I’ll email Nathan a pic later on and see if he can attach it to this post. I’m at 100% with good front lights on all three units. I wonder what the issue is and why so many folks are having problems.

    Click for big:

    • That should read “third” not “second”. Point is, this pic is the newest and worst of the bunch and I’d honestly never have noticed it but for the fact that there are tons of complaints.

  11. Tough to tell from a photo, of course. Read a few pages, then rotate the unit so the text is upside down and see if you notice anything.

  12. Nope. No matter what I do, that little TEENY bit of difference you see in that photo is it. And as I said, this is the worst of the three units. I tried turning the unit upside-down, tried placing a strip of paper over the center, different light levels and types. Not sure what the issue is with about 30% of the units out there. And it’s odd that 3 out of 3 are good, here and that pretty much all the early reviews of the device had good screens. Maybe there was a (large) bad batch or something.

  13. I have a Voyage with a poor screen, and it’s most noticeable when you have the brightness set to about half the maximum. The first time I noticed it was when I was reading in bed in the pitch black. I set it to about 9-10 brightness, and it is very noticeable in a dark room. It’s less noticeable with the screen on maximum brightness, but I’d never read that bright in a dark room. I have photos of mine here:

    • Nope. Tried that too… on all three units. The gradient is negligible and only noticeable if pointed out. There has to be some quality control issue… for me to get 3 out of 3 pretty much perfect screens and for all of the initial preview reviews to have great screen quality while about a third of folks out there are having issues is really fishy. Someone dropped the ball somewhere.

  14. That is odd. I believe you, but I received four units in a row with noticeable gradient issues. I am hoping that the next production batch (the December 21 ship date listed online for new orders) fixes the problem. I’ll wait for reviews of that group before trying again.

    • Yep. I’m of the opinion that it’s some kind of large batch production snafu. Seems like all of the early preview units and about 2/3 of the first release units from 10/21 work beautifully. Hopefully it’s easy enough to remedy.

      • While I’m not doubting the possibility of there being bad batches, I also think some people are less sensitive or suspectible to the gradient.

        Someone on another forum posted the phoo below, and another poster noticed that it looked like the top half was more yellow than the bottom half. The original poster said it was simply the lighting and that it was perfectly even. I’m 90% sure it’s the same as mine (i.e. a bad screen/frontlight), and even I noticed when I first saw the photo (before I purchased my own Voyage) that there was a definite colour difference.

  15. I got mine from BestBuy. The unevenness was more apparent on lower frontlight settings. I didn’t settle for the blotchy 1st gen paperwhite (returned it, didn’t buy second one), and I will certainly not settle for this super-expensive-two-color reader. Better luck next year.

  16. I have a question for you Kindle Voyage owners (I’m from Italy, Voyage is not yet available here). If I disable the internal light, is the contrast like a basic kindle or worst? Because what I’m looking for is the high resolution and if I turn down the background illumination and contrast is not worst than my old kindle touch, I can live with it.

    • Firstly, you can’t totally shut off the light. It’s adjustable down to ALMOST off. Same as with the Paperwhite. That said, with the light at its lowest level, contrast is noticeably better than the basic Kindle. I personally have purchased three Voyages and have had no problems at all with uneven lighting. My experiences have been great.

  17. I have just got a voyage (Dec 30th) and the screen is insanely uneven.
    My wife has a paperwhite gen 1 which have all the bad press about poor screen uniformity but I just read a chapter from hers and it is way, way, WAY better.
    Really annoyed, as I love the pagepress and the dpi is fantastic… just can’t decide if I should sent it back or not, if I’m likely to just get another exactly the same.

  18. Same thing here. Received mine 31st of December and the screen is definitely uneven. Will send it back.

  19. I received my 4th Voyage on Dec 23rd with an uneven screen and it was returned. I have kept the 2nd Voyage that I bought at Best Buy in November which has slight yellowing at the top but not too bad. At this point I am willing to believe that many if not most Voyages have this screen gradient and some people just don’t see it or don’t care. I haven’t given up the hope though of finding a Voyage with an even screen sometime in the future. I’m adding a link to a photo that compares the screen of Kindle #2 on the left to #4 that I returned in Dec.

  20. I’m disappointed to hear these new reports that the latest production run (late December) has the same issue with uneven lighting.

    I’m the “Stephen” who posted about my four attempts to get a good Voyage in November. Sounds more and more like it is a design defect, not just the actual front lights from a particular Chinese supplier.

  21. Yep I have noticed since the first time I began to use it, also this is my first ebook e-ink reader; at first I thought that it was a defect on my eyes (I don’t have very good sight) but now I can see that it wasn’t just my imagination but, leaving alone that, I’m pretty satisfied with the product, and it has not caused me trouble to read, but it is just my opinion.

  22. I just purchased a refurbished Voyage from Amazon a week ago. It had the one sided tint. Amazon just sent me a replacement and it does the same thing. I’m going to return it for credit and just get the new Paperwhite that has the same PPI. I should of done that to begin with. Like Nathan, using the buttons for me on the Voyage wasn’t that great without a cover.

  23. I just purchased one of these this week (2017) and I read landscape due to the device being difficult to hold any other way (small bezel and big fingers). The tint on the right side of the screen is decidedly sepia, and it’s almost blue on the left at brightness level 13, in the dark. It’s so disappointing to see that this issue was entirely ignored…