comscore Kindle Oasis review: Just another perfect (and pricey) Kindle
Review

Kindle Oasis review: Just another perfect (and pricey) Kindle

The Kindle Oasis is the Rolls Royce of e-book readers. But do you really need one?

kindle-oasis-review-1

Let me begin with a question to existing Kindle owners. Have you, ever since you have bought your Kindle, felt the need to upgrade? Well, chances are that your answer is No. And, Amazon is desperately trying to turn that answer into a Yes. E-book readers are a niche category, and with every new release Amazon is trying to make the Kindle more aspirational (and their pricing sure seems to reflect that). Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale: Best deals on headphones, speakers, powerbanks under Rs 1000

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Amazon has made themselves synonymous with e-book readers. It not only created the category, but steadily held fort with one perfect after another perfect Kindle. The Oasis is great progression to this perfection. While the latest Paperwhite and Voyage focused on emphasizing software based enhancements, with cosmetic hardware tweaks, Amazon decided to disrupt the space with a massive hardware redesign with the Oasis. Also Read - Amazon Prime Day sale deals revealed: Discount on OnePlus Nord CE, Mi 11X, Samsung Galaxy M42

Consequently, the Kindle Oasis looks nothing like its predecessors. It is a dramatic redesign, and a gorgeous one. Holding the Oasis is equivalent to falling in love with it. The change in the slab like shape is immediately noticeable. The Oasis comes with a sloped design that thins out toward one side, measuring only 0.13-inches at its slimmest point. In your hand, the newest Kindle feels incredibly light (without the cover, we ll come to that later) and offers a far better grip than the Voyage. It weighs a mere 131 grams for the Wi-Fi variant and 133 grams for the Wi-Fi+3G variant.

kindle-oasis-review-3The design ensures that holding the Oasis is pretty similar to holding a physical book. In its quest to replicate the physical book reading experience, Amazon has also added buttons to the broad side panel of the new Kindle. As against the Voyage and even the new Paperwhite, that had a completely capacitive touch interface, the Oasis sports two skinny page turn buttons on its one-side broad bezel. The top one advances the page, the bottom one turns it back. This one also comes with an accelerometer, so you can flip the reader and the orientation adjusts accordingly. It s pretty intuitive , and at least for me, a welcome change over the haptic-feedback vibrations and buzzes of the previous Kindles.

FROM EARLIER: Kindle Voyage Review: Perfection, at a Price

Amazon has also made some attempt to improve the screen. The Oasis comes with a brighter display that includes 10 LED lights compared to the six built into the Voyage s screen. I compared the brightest display setting on the Oasis to the brightest one on the Paperwhite, and the difference is apparent.

Other than an aesthetic overhaul and a better lit screen, the Oasis has nothing significant to add in terms of the software experience. The OS still feels sluggish, especially when you choose to turn your pages using the touch-screen instead of the physical side buttons. Other than that, all modern Kindles share the same software and the Oasis is no different.

ALSO READ: Kindle Paperwhite 2015 review: Same price, more pixels

Like the Voyage and the Paperwhite, it shall allow you to take notes and look up unfamiliar words. It also supports Amazon s X-Ray feature for viewing passages that mention specific themes and characters, and it of course integrates with Goodreads for book recommendations, among other capabilities.

Which brings me to the battery life. Amazon basically slimmed down the Kindle by cutting its battery in half. As a compensation, and also because Amazon has spoilt users by embedding former Kindles with a phenomenal battery life, the Oasis comes with an accompanying leather cover that adds 10 weeks of battery life to the device, Amazon claims. Though I need a couple of more months to test that claim, I mapped the battery without the cover, and it lasted me about five days with approximately an hour of reading every day.

kindle-oasis-review-2However, I have a major beef with the cover. Once you attach the cover to the Oasis, it questions the entire point of the latest Kindle itself. The most promising selling point of the Oasis is its unique back design that offers a better grip, but with the cover on, it becomes a flat surfaced device, much like the Voyage. The difference in weight is negligible when you put the cover on. It would have made much more sense if Amazon had complemented this hardware redesign with some innovation on the battery-pack cover front as well. Putting the cover takes away the single biggest differentiator of the Oasis.

Another thing that bothers me about the way Amazon is adding capabilities to their Kindles is their smartness. The previous Kindles (the Voyage and Paperwhite), despite their premium pricing do not add much to the reading experience save their weight reductions and hardware changes. Amazon is quick to showcase some bathtub reading in their Kindle advertisement in India, but even their most expensive Kindle till date isn t waterproof (Kobo, on the other hand, has gone waterproof with its Aura H2O, which is also more than $100 cheaper than the Oasis).

via GIPHY

The other thing is that though Amazon is trying to build an ecosystem with its devices like Echo and Alexa, it is doing very little to integrate the Kindle into that IoT value chain. And my most basic beef with the Kindle has been that it does not even come with a headphones jack for listening to audio books. It struck me particularly hard this time when my sister, unable to read because of a health ailment, complained that she isn t able to indulge in an audio book despite having the expensive Voyage.

ALSO READ: Amazon launches upgraded entry-level Kindle in India, priced at Rs 5,999

That brings me to the bottom line of it all. Is the Oasis worth it? I did a little experiment to try and answer that. I left a book I was reading on Oasis midway, and resumed reading it on the new Paperwhite. The duller and slightly more reflective screen of the Paperwhite bothered me for about three-odd pages. And it took a couple of hours for my muscle memory to reorient my hand to the weight and the flat surface of the Paperwhite. After that, it made no difference at all. I read and finished my novel without feeling deprived of a superior experience.

So at Rs 23,999 for the basic Wi-Fi version (the 3G+Wi-Fi version will set you back by Rs 27,999), the Oasis is the Kindle you want, but do not need. Like most of my previous Kindle reviews, I will end this one by saying the same thing — the new Paperwhite (currently retailing at Rs 11,999) still remains the Kindle I d recommend to anyone embarking on the e-reading adventure.

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  • Published Date: June 28, 2016 4:58 PM IST
  • Updated Date: June 28, 2016 5:20 PM IST



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