It’s been a long time since I’ve given up books. No it doesn’t mean I’ve given up reading. It’s just that I graduated to a Kindle. My Kindle, which also happens to be a gift from a dear one, is an essential gadget that I carry with me almost all the time. Given that context, when I got my hands on the latest Kindle Oasis, I was excited. After using Amazon’s latest Kindle for about a month now, here’s my review.
When you take it out of the box for the first time, there’s a sense of familiarity, yet this is a brand new Kindle. Yes it looks a lot like last year’s Oasis, but this new e-reader is quite an upgrade. The overall design hasn’t changed much –an awkward bulge on one side to an absurdly thin screen on the other. While the bulge houses the battery, it also offers grip – more on that later.
The square shape is retained, which mimics a book. But instead of a plastic body, the Kindle Oasis now boasts a metal body. To many this seems like an upgrade, but I see it as a negative. If I needed a device with a metal body, I would opt for a smartphone or a tablet. For me, the Kindle is a replacement for a book. Books never felt slippery or cold to touch on a wintery night. The Oasis however does, and that is distracting (till you get conditioned to it).
The metal body also adds to the weight, and at 194 grams, the Oasis is the heaviest Kindle yet. To put that into perspective, last year’s Oasis weighed in at 135 grams. Now it may not sound all that heavy, but when lying on your bed at night reading, the weight is annoying. I had to frequently switch hands when reading on the Kindle. Fortunately, Amazon has an elegant solution for this particular scenario. This also brings us to one of the best features of the new Kindle – the display.
After years of staring at a 6-inch e-ink display, Amazon has finally bumped the size up to 7-inches. While it is just an inch, all of a sudden you sense there is a lot more space, and letters seem to have more breathing space. While the 300dpi resolution remains the same, Amazon says that the e-reader can now show up to 30 percent more text. 12 LEDs are now used for the backlit display, and overall brightness too gets a boost with 24 levels of gradation. The Kindle supports 16-level grey scale.
In simpler words, text now look sharper than before, and the backlighting is more uniform too. There’s also a built-in auto brightness option, but it is a feature that is a tad more distracting than helpful. Unlike flagship smartphones that subtly adjust the brightness, on the Kindle you can see the levels increasing or decreasing one-by-one. During my usage, I kept the option off most of the time since I had settled on one level for reading during the day or night.
The Kindle Oasis offers a range of options to adjust your reading experience. Besides brightness, users can tweak the size and boldness of the text, and there are also fonts to choose from namely, Amazon Ember and Amazon Ember Bold.
That said, two of my favorite features are the option to invert colors, and change text alignment. There are those whose eyes are sensitive to light, and for them, there’s an option to invert colors. As the name suggests, this option basically makes the background dark, and the text white. Picture the dark mode in apps like Twitter. The alignment feature isn’t a big one, but for people like me who are obsessed with such things, Kindle Oasis now allows you to select left alignment similar to what you see in books.
There’s more processing power under the hood, which makes pages turn faster (and smoother). I just happened to compare the page turning time between the Oasis and an entry-level Kindle. Suffice to say, the time difference feels like eons.
While reading, you can turn pages either by using the physical buttons on the side or tap the edges of the screen. I prefer the buttons, since they are ergonomically placed, and are so precise. Tapping on the screen doesn’t always have the same accuracy.
To allow users to read the Kindle while holding with either of the hands, the Oasis now comes with a built-in accelerometer. What this means, when you turn the Kindle, the text turn automatically as well. This means, you can hold the Oasis with your left or right hand, and still use the buttons comfortably to turn pages.
One of the biggest upgrades on the new Kindle is its durability. The Oasis is IPX8 certified that makes it waterproof. Amazon claims that the Kindle will survive 60 minutes in up to two meters of freshwater. Now this is no doubt great news for people who want to read books while in a bathtub, sitting on a beach, or while lounging in the pool area. I did splash some water on the Kindle, and it didn’t have any effect on it. If your Kindle does come in contact with water, here are some steps Amazon wants you to follow to keep it safe.
Last, but not the least is battery life. Suffice to say, you won’t have to carry around a charger with you all the time. Despite the bigger display, the battery is easily able to last for over a week on a single charge. In a month since I’ve been using the Kindle, I have only ever charged the device from zero twice.
To buy or not to buy
Every year one tends to think this is the best a Kindle can be, and the next year Amazon again surprises you. The new Oasis is no different. It is the most premium Kindle to date, the build quality is phenomenal, the bigger display just feels natural, and the battery life doesn’t disappoint.
However, if I were to nitpick, I will still complain about the use of metal, which makes it feel like a cold-hearted tablet. While you understand the logic behind the Oasis’ design, the overall ergonomics still could have been a tad better, and lastly, it feels slightly heavy in your hands.
Then there is the price tag. The Kindle Oasis is available in two variants – Wi-Fi only with 8GB storage priced at Rs 21,999, and Wi-Fi+3G with 32GB storage priced at Rs 27,999.
This clearly puts the Kindle Oasis beyond the budget of a lot of people, except die hard fans. If you are among those die hard fans who wants the best e-book reading experience (and nothing else), there’s nothing better than the Kindle Oasis. But if you are constrained by the budget, the Paperwhite – at half the price – is still a very good Kindle for your day-to-day use.