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If you're a dedicated reader but prefer tablets to tomes, then the Amazon Kindle Oasis could well be for you. The premium ebook reader doesn't come cheap, but with the most extensive list of features for a Kindle yet, including waterproofing and a more natural backlight, is it the best home for your library?
It’s been two years since Amazon last revamped the Kindle Oasis, so what’s new? Well, to be honest, not much. The 2019 Oasis is a revision rather than a reimagining, but with a strong set of features already under its belt, we don’t think that’s an issue. The question is, can Amazon justify the lofty asking price?
In this review:
What's Great About the Kindle Oasis
The Kindle Oasis is Amazon’s premium ebook reader, and you’ll spot that straight away from the price – not to mention the design. It could be argued that the cheaper Paperwhite, which has inherited many of the features that made the Oasis so desirable in the past, may have somewhat dampened its appeal. However, the Oasis still manages to pip pretty much every other ebook reader out there when it comes to specs.
Display & Design
In terms of design, the Oasis feels like a premium product. It consists of a pleasingly thin, flat aluminium backing, culminating in a ridge on the underside of the device. Amazon have clearly tried to make the Oasis as slim as possible up to a point, and allowed some extra room in the chassis to accommodate the battery. Far from this bump being a problem, it actually provides a comfortable grip.
The asymmetrical design, with the buttons to one side (mainly used for turning pages), might seem a concern at first for left-handed readers. But flip the Oasis round and the screen will rightside itself accordingly, meaning that southpaws are catered for. This does have the slight downside of the power button being at the bottom of the device if you’re holding it in your left hand – it’s hardly a deal breaker, but expect a bit of fumbling for a switch that’s just not there the first few times.
The screen is a nice 7 inches, which feels more on a par with your standard paperback page than the 6-inch displays of the standard Kindle and Paperwhite. It also has a smaller bezel than those devices, which again contributes to the more premium appeal of the Oasis.
The e-ink screen itself is pretty unchanged from the previous model. It’s clear and readable, with a resolution of 300pi (same as the Paperwhite). In real terms, this means that the letters on the page are free of pixelation, while the screen’s smooth rounded corners successfully emulate the printed page.
The Oasis also happens to be waterproof, making it a good choice for reading by the pool, or perhaps in the bath. It’s submersible to two meters, meaning that you can carry on reading even if your Oasis takes an accidental plunge.
One of the big selling points of the Kindle Oasis is its lighting function. Sure, the Paperwhite also has a backlit screen, but it only uses 5 LED lights to brighten its display. The Oasis makes use of 25, which in theory means a more consistent, brighter light from the display – although in reality, you’d need to have the two side by side to see the difference. Thanks to a built-in light sensor, the display will adjust its brightness according to the light in your room. This concept was first present in the now ditched 2014 Kindle Voyage, but lives on in the Oasis.
The Oasis’s ‘stand out’ feature for this iteration is the introduction of ‘adjustable warm light’, which is an attempt to soften the default bright white of the backlight. This is intended to make reading in low light more comfortable, and it’s an approach which has become common in the tech world of late – indeed, your Apple or Android phone likely already has this feature.
It works well, and the softer light does make reading more palatable, with the slight warm hue giving the page the appearance of an older, yellowed book. It can also be scheduled to come on at certain times, or to automatically change with the sunset and sunrise.
Plenty of Storage
Storage comes in two flavors – 8GB ($270) and 32GB ($300). Ebook readers are the one device where we’ll tell you not to get too hung up about capacity. While it’s always wise to go for a phone or tablet with more space than you think you’ll need, ebook files occupy such a tiny amount of space that you’ll be able to fill the cheaper Oasis with all the books you could ever hope to read, and still have plenty of space.
Even if you get into using the Oasis for audio books (which can be done via connecting Bluetooth headphones), you won’t be found wanting for space any time soon.
Virtual Book Store
When it comes to purchasing books, you can of course buy them on the Amazon store, and download them to your Kindle over WiFi, or browse the store on the device itself. This works in a pinch, but it’s not ideal, with the slight refresh delay of the e-ink screen not perfect for browsing.
With the Oasis, you get an LTE connection as standard, meaning that even if you’re not connected to the WiFi, you can still download your books and search the store over this mobile network. Amazon don’t charge you for this service, and it’s a great feature when you’re stuck for something to read and without an internet connection.
One of the benefits of e-ink screens is that they are incredibly undemanding when it comes to power. You can merrily neglect your Kindle for weeks before it will need to be plugged in. Additional features, such as backlighting and using the wifi, will drain your device faster, but on average you can expect around six weeks of daily use out of the Oasis per charge.
We found that this estimate from Amazon was fairly accurate, and even in testing – as we constantly turned the brightness way up, hopped on and off the wifi, and virtually flicked through numerous books – power was never an issue. As with previous Kindles, you’ll find that you can eke out even more battery life if the device isn’t constantly connected to wifi, so our tip is to pop it into airplane mode if you don’t need to be online.
Kindle Oasis Drawbacks
It’s impossible to talk about the Kindle Oasis without discussing the price. At $270, you have to REALLY like your ebooks to pick this up, especially considering that the standard Kindle and Paperwhite are priced at $90 and $130 respectively. Heck, the 32GB Oasis is $300 – just $30 shy of a brand new iPad. If you wanted, you could just get an Apple tablet and download the Kindle app, but some would suggest that’s missing the point. The Oasis is undoubtedly the Ferrari of ebook readers, although it’s less likely to turn heads at stop lights.
It's worth pointing out that if you opt for adverts on your Kindle, Amazon will knock off $20 from the price.
Charging is handled by a mini-USB port, which gets the job done, but these days – when pretty much everyone else has moved to USB-C – this seems somewhat antiquated. It also means that finding a cable to charge it with is a slight inconvenience – yes, you get one in the box, but good luck asking to borrow a charger at work or out and about if you’re running low on juice.
Amazon Kindle Oasis – The Verdict
Is the Kindle Oasis the best of Amazon’s ebook readers? Yes. The slim design and strong feature set make this the pinnacle of the Kindle lineup, as well as leaving competitors’ devices in the dust. However, we’re a bit reticent about telling you to buy one.
You see, while the Oasis is a fantastic device, it’s also dang expensive. With the Paperwhite getting some of the Oasis’ standout features this year, such as waterproofing, we can’t recommend the Oasis to anyone but the most hardened ebook fanatic. The Paperwhite does about 80% of what the Oasis does, and for less than 50% of the asking price.
If you need to have the very best ebook reader out there, then grab the Oasis. If you don’t mind a slight compromise, get the Paperwhite. Get two if you want – you’ll still be saving money.
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