Design

Amazon has taken an unorthodox approach to the design of the Kindle Oasis for 2017. It’s asymmetrical, with thin bezels on three sides, and a much larger bezel on one side. That same side has a bulge on the back, which houses most of the circuitry and battery storage.

The asymmetrical design shifts the center of gravity of the device to one side, which makes it easier to hold in one hand, since the device will have less leverage on your muscles. It’s a pretty smart design, and in use it does work well. It lets the device taper to just 3.4 mm thick, and the whole thing weighs only 194 grams, which is 10 grams less than a Paperwhite. 10 grams doesn’t sound like much, but with the larger display, the Kindle Oasis certainly feels lighter.

The side also has physical page turn buttons, which is not something that’s always available anymore on Kindles. Most of the devices just offer a touchscreen to turn pages, but that can mean moving your thumb over for every page. That still works on the Kindle Oasis, but the two buttons can be used which allows you to keep your hand in one place. The buttons are setup so that the top turns forward, and the bottom turns backwards, but you can switch that in the settings if you’d prefer it the other way around.

The Kindle Oasis also has an accelerometer which will automatically rotate the page 180° if you flip the book over, and the page buttons also swap around, so the top button stays as page forward.

The aluminum shell offers the same premium material feel of a high-end smartphone, and it is much more resistant to fingerprints than the soft-touch plastic of the Paperwhite. But the device is a bit too smooth in the hand, and more texture on the surface would be appreciated to make it less slippery.

With the asymmetrical design, and the aluminum exterior, the Kindle Oasis stands out compared to other E-Reader devices on the market. This, coupled with the light weight, make for a nice feel when holding the Oasis for long periods.

Accessories

With any Kindle launch, Amazon also creates some custom covers and cases for the Kindles, and the Oasis is no exception. For this round, thanks to the design of the new Oasis, the official covers fit in a unique way in that they fill in the gap on the back, and then have a cover that swings around the front. The cases are held on with magnets, and it includes a magnet on the top cover which will lock the cover on the front to keep it closed, as well as hold the cover open when it’s swung around to the back. It also has the benefit of being a wakeup signal to the Oasis to power it up when you open the cover.

The covers also have a flexible portion to allow you to use the cover as a stand. I’m not sure how useful this is, but if you want to prop it up, it’s an option.

Amazon sent both the leather cover, and the fabric cover. The fabric one gives a great texture to the device, and provides a lot more grip, and as such it’s my preference. It’s also splash resistant, so if you get water on it, it will bead off. The leather one is a soft leather, but a bit more slippery.

On most Kindles, I don’t run a cover anymore, due to the extra weight. The Oasis is a bit of an exception though, and the cover to fill in the gap and add a bit more texture to the device has been a welcome addition during some reading sessions. It does add about 100 grams to the total weight, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it’s half the weight of the Oasis itself, so even Amazon recommends removing the case when reading.

But, even though the cases that arrived with the review unit have worked very well, the reviews on Amazon for the first-party cases that first shipped with the new Oasis are very negative . It appears there’s issues with consistency of the strength of the magnets, and many customers are complaining about the cases not staying on. Amazon has clearly taken this to heart, and the current batch are no longer available from them. We’re told new versions will be available in the coming weeks. Luckily, there’s no shortage of 3rd party cases, and most of them seem to have better reviews.

Introduction Display, Performance, and Battery Life
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  • Threska - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    They'd have to give it a different SKU then. Part of the reason people get bitten, and remember Wal-mart isn't the only one who does this, is they don't pay attention. Reply
  • romrunning - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    @Carmen00:
    In regards to not including Kobo, the article title clearly states the review is about the Kindle Oasis (2017). If you want a review of the Kobo models, look for one of those.

    Don't try to fault the reviewer for doing exactly what he said the article was about. Now if this review was entitled "A Review of Ebook Readers", then you could fault him.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, January 27, 2018 - link

    Perhaps you haven't read many reviews on this site, but they often feature comparisons with comparable products. This is true of most product reviews, since they're intended to answer the question: "do I buy this?", with the possible answers being: "yes", "no - something else", and "no - save your money". It's not like Oasis is a completely one-of-a-kind product, with zero alternatives on the market. Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, January 27, 2018 - link

    I'll add that failing including meaningful comparisons puts it at greater risk of simply turning into a sales pitch. Reply
  • Carmen00 - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    Got to stick strictly to the title, right? Following that line of thinking, articles about Ryzen should clearly not be mentioning Intel chips, articles about Huawei's latest and greatest shouldn't be mentioning Samsung's products, and so on! It's standard practice to make some comparisons with the relevant competition, and Kobo is both quite relevant and very competitive in this niche. That is why I took exception to the particular statement that I quoted: it makes it appear as though there isn't such competition. I take Brett's point that this is just his own experience, but that said, perhaps he could take the opportunity to broaden that experience so that this kind of review is better and more useful to Anandtech readers. Reply
  • drothgery - Friday, February 02, 2018 - link

    It's almost impossible to overstate how dominant Amazon's market position is in eBook sales. If a device doesn't have a Kindle app, it's basically useless as an ebook reader except for the tiny portion of the market that jailbreaks books or uses alternative stores. Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, February 02, 2018 - link

    You can buy ebooks directly from publishers. O'Reilly and InformIT provide PDFs, MOBI, and EPUB - all of which are supported by Kobo Aura ONE. For my needs, this is enough.

    Kobo is fairly popular outside the USA.

    All of this is to say that people should *look* and see if they can find the titles they want, for other e-readers they might be interested in using. Don't simply assume that Amazon is the only way.
    Reply
  • reckless76 - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    I bought the original Oasis, and I loved it. Felt great, looked great.. The problem was it was just too fragile. It slipped out of my hands while I was sitting down, reading on the porch. When it hit the ground, the case went flying off and the screen cracked. I'd only had it about 6 months. So I went back to the paperwhite. I can be as rough as I want with it and it's fine. Reply
  • Alexvrb - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    My dad has the second-gen Oasis and it's pretty darn nice. A lot nicer than the first-gen Oasis. Also doesn't have the split battery design of the first gen either (which in hindsight had issues like the case flying off). Though I would still recommend the case for protection and grip.

    I will say the build quality of his first-gen Voyage was also meh. So maybe just avoid the first-gen models. :P
    Reply
  • Wolfpup - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    I want one of these!

    My only concern is...with lighting (people freak out if I call it backlighting even though iPads aren't actually backlit either)-I wonder if it's any better for your eyes/sleep than an iPad. Like a non-lit Kindle is, but I don't know what adding lighting to them does. I don't think anyone's actually done the research on that, and given the niche within a niche status...

    Otherwise it's a cool product! 7" is nicer than 6, high resolution, etc. eInk is SO pleasant to read on compared with other screen tech.
    Reply

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