With little fanfare, Amazon recently released its latest e-reader – the Kindle Oasis.
The innovator in digital reading devices promises this Kindle offers “Reimagined Design. Perfectly Balanced.” Is that enough to warrant an upgrade from your old e-reader?
Let’s take a closer look.
It’s Effing Expensive
Dang. Prices start at $289.99.
For that kind of money, I want Wentworth Miller to come to my house and read to me. To be honest, I was not in the market for a new e-reader when the Kindle Oasis launched. I was reasonably content with my Kindle PaperWhite.
Then a funny thing happened.
In March, Amazon dropped a huge software update to all its Kindles. These software upgrades tend to be few and minor and as easy as letting your Kindle sleep overnight and presto! It’s automatically updated. This one was a bit of a headache, requiring some manual synchronization.
And when I had updated my Kindle – it didn’t work so well. The e-reader that gave me at least 10 days of reading on a single charge now couldn’t hold juice to last two days. Any page with a graphic stuttered and took a few seconds to load.
So suddenly I was in the market for an e-reader, just as Amazon was launching a new model.
Strange how the timing of all that worked out.
Not going to lie, the price point made me blink. (In contrast, the base Kindle starts at $79.99 and the PaperWhite will set you back $119.99.)
And why is the Oasis so darn expensive?
Apparently, that’s because of the cover.
Yes, that’s the biggest change in this model – the leather cover acts as a back-up battery. When you charge the Oasis, you are charging the device as well as the cover, and when the device runs down, the cover kicks in, supplying energy to keep you turning pages for about a month.
And it does last a month, if your idea of a month lasts seven days.
Seven days, and the Oasis started hitting me with a barrage of messages that my battery was running low and I needed to plug it in for a charge.
Mind you, my usage is about an hour every day. So after seven hours across one week, this thing with its brand-new battery cover was screaming for watts.
Color me unimpressed.
Kindle on a Diet
The Oasis is a couple ounces lighter than previous models. While the screen is responsive to touch, it also features turning buttons on the side if you don’t like leaving grimy fingerprints all over your screen. The Oasis screen orients to how you hold it – so those who are left-handed are not at a disadvantage and it changes back if you hand it to a righty.
There is one tactile issue that I don’t think anyone thought through.
Because the cover also acts as a battery charger, it slides into the back of the device and connects with it but does not completely surround it.
When you are reading, if you are holding the model like an open book, you’re touching a cold shell as well as soft leather. There’s not one uniform feel. You could fold the cover back to back, but I don’t hold a book that way. It’s not a big deal, but it is worth noting. I would have expected Amazon’s brilliant designers to come up with a fix, like a flap to the cover that would naturally extend over the shell.
The model apparently is doing well. Or there are just a lot of idiots out there like me who just have to have the latest e-reader. Amazon reports the device won’t be back in stock until June 1. Do some comparison shopping of your own – the Kindle Oasis page compares it to other Amazon models, with a helpful breakdown of features.
If you are in the market for an e-reader, I recommend the PaperWhite.
Still, the most important things about the Kindle, no matter the model, have not changed: The convenience of being able to carry a library of thousands of books around with you on a single lightweight device. The ease of shopping and being able to download a new book at any hour in any location in mere seconds. Most of all, that reading experience – I still get lost in my books every time.
But it’s not the Kindle that matters after all, it’s the stories.