Yes, it's expensive, but the Kindle Oasis is a brilliant bit of design and easily the best eReader yet
- Beautiful design
- Excellent battery life
- Good display
Can you justify spending £270 on books? Depending on how much you read each year, the Kindle Oasis might just be your perfect companion. Not long ago, a book used to consist of a paperback copy and a digital version you could store on a device. These days, eBooks provide a convenient approach way of reading books. Instead of having to carry around a lot of paper, you can get a Kindle to store thousands of eBooks on a device you can use for months on a single charge.
There are four Kindles to choose from, ranging from the inexpensive £60 budget Kindle to the £270 Kindle Oasis, which equated to around the same price as 54 traditional paperback books. That amounts to one hell of a summer holiday reading binge. The Oasis is also £160 more than the rather excellent Kindle Paperwhite, which does everything you need in a sturdy, practical package.
The Kindle Oasis is in another league. It’s the luxury Caribbean cruise of eReaders, compared to the Paperwhite’s two weeks on the Costa del Sol. Of course, Amazon’s range of eBook devices has always been good, but they’ve never been that exciting, as even last year’s premium Kindle Voyage, which brought a kind of tablet-like design to the range, was still a bit chunky and masculine for most tastes. The Kindle Oasis, on the other hand, is the most desirable eReader yet, and arguably the first truly desirable eReader ever.
Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Design
The price of Amazon’s eReaders has always been somewhat misleading, as they’re so much nicer to use when paired with an Amazon-made case. The company has obviously realised this, as the Kindle Oasis is only sold complete with a leather-fronted case; for which there are three colour options. There are no non-leather options available, so if it’s not the look for you, or you have ethical objections then the Kindle Oasis won’t be the eReader for you.
The eReader and the case have been designed together, making it essentially one device that can split apart when required. The eReader part feels almost weightless in your hand, as most of its meagre 131g is offset to one side, making it feel even lighter when it’s snug in your palm.
Meanwhile, the cover section attaches securely to the back using magnets, filling the empty space left by the offset design. It includes a far larger battery, quadrupling the battery life from a couple of weeks light use (30 minutes a day) up to a couple of months.
The cover battery automatically tops up the main battery when attached, too, so the power is always where you need it. There are dual battery indicators in the interface, so you can see where your power currently resides.
This means you can benefit from its screen protection and longer battery life while travelling, but when you want to settle down and read at home, you can pop off the case and appreciate the easy, single-handed design and low weight. In fact I often used the Oasis without the cover for days a time, carrying it in my coat pocket without even noticing it was there most of the time.
Having got rid of page turn buttons on the Paperwhite and dabbled with touch-sensitive ones on the Voyage, Amazon has now come full circle on the Oasis and reintroduced proper buttons. These soft, rubbery ridges sit perfectly under your thumb, and you can use the device left- or right-handed, as the screen will change orientation to match your grip.
The buttons mean you don’t have to tap the screen, which can be distracting, or, worse, leave greasy fingerprints all over it. Of course, the touchscreen is still there if you prefer to swipe or tap through a book or navigate the menus.
It’s worth pointing out that the case doesn’t protect the whole device in the same way that the Kindle Paperwhite’s does. Then again, a combined Paperwhite and case weighs a total of 364g (205g and 159g) compared to the 238g (131g and 107g) of the Oasis, and the Paperwhite case has to be wrestled on-and-off, too, so what you lose in protection you make up for in other areas. Overall, the Oasis is an absolute pleasure to use, making all other eReaders seem somewhat lumpen by comparison.
Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Display
The 6in display is the size as the one you get on the Kindle Paperwhite or Voyage. Thanks to its pixel density of 300 pixels-per-inch, text is finely-detailed and frankly I can’t see the need for anything greater. The Oasis does have more LEDs, though, resulting in cleaner and more consistent lighting of the screen. It also has purer whites than its immediate siblings, which subtly improves contrast, but there’s very little in it.
As mentioned above, you get an orientation sensor with the Oasis, but surprisingly it doesn’t have the Voyage’s ambient light sensor. That means it won’t adjust automatically to the lighting conditions, which seems like a step back to me.
However, you do get the same silky-smooth screen finish as the Voyage, which I prefer to the rougher texture of the Paperwhite. The screen is also bezel-less and so appears far more immediate, almost as if the display is floating up off the device when you’re reading in the dark.
Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Interface
The Kindle Oasis uses essentially the same updated interface as the other current Kindles. You get the slick new homepage with easy access to your current and recent books, plus a wishlist and list of unread titles to pick from. Commonly used settings are far easier to access when needed, and the whole thing is pretty much a joy to use, regardless of whether you want to check back to a previous page, look up a word in the dictionary, or find out where that character first popped up and who they are.
I put it head-to-head with the current Kindle Paperwhite, expecting the Oasis to be quicker, but there’s nothing in it. Opening books from main menu, browsing the store, or turning pages all took the same amount of time, judged by eye at least. Modern Kindles are pretty fast but there’s still room for improvement and it’s a shame not to see any here.
Amazon has recently improved its font range and text setting engine, too, so that text looks more naturally placed across the page without too many extra spaces dropped in to justify the lines. The Bookerly font introduced last year is an all-round great font for easy reading, too.
More recently the company has added the new Ember font to its lineup. Ember is a sans-serif font, which simply means it doesn’t have the little flourishes at the tops and bottoms of the characters. Kindles already have sans-serif fonts of course, most notably Helvetica, for those who prefer a modern look to their text. Ember is lighter-looking than Helvetica though, so while it’s nothing very special, it’s bound to find its fans.
However, Amazon still lags behind its competitors, such as the ePub-based Kobo, when it comes to text layout options, font size options and generally making an eBook look like a book. I miss book-specific fonts, but even more aggravating are the paltry eight font sizes. Far finer size graduations would have been greatly appreciated. That said, I’ve complained about such things for some time now, and while annoying they don’t quite irritate me enough to push me away from Amazon’s excellent hardware, low book prices and slick service.
Amazon Kindle Oasis review: Verdict
If you like nice things, use your eReader constantly and can happily stomach paying £270 for a device which, practically speaking, does the job of something half its price (the Paperwhite and its leather case will set you back £110 at present), then the Kindle Oasis is for you.
I have to applaud Amazon for moving forward with eReader design here, producing something that’s truly excellent to use without indulging in a pointless specification upgrade. The Oasis is simply the best eReader ever. I’m just hoping and praying that Amazon decides to produce more intriguing designs, such as an eReader with a larger screen size. Buy Now from Amazon.
|6in E Ink touchscreen
|2 weeks/2 months
|802.11n (3G optional)
|AZW3, AZW, MOBI
|Other file support
|TXT, PDF, HTML,DOC, DOCX, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP
|One year RTB
|Price (inc VAT)