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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  • docbones - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    Really would like to see comparison to the Kobo and Waterproof Nook. I have gone through two Kobo's (warranty replacement failed shortly after the warranty ended) But so far the waterproof Nook has worked well. All the mobi and epub books I have put on it have been great.

    Just not sure I want to pay the premium to move up the Oasis if its not that much better then the Nook.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    The only eBooks I read are PDFs, which you can usually buy in bundle discounts, directly from the publishers. Whenever I check Amazon reviews for technical books, it seems most of the negative reviews are trashing the kindle version, whereas the PDFs are (in my experience) identical to the printed copy. Plus, I read a fair number of academic papers - all PDFs.

    The main downside of PDFs is the resolution and screen size they require, to be legible. For that, I've found an even better solution than Kindle Oasis - the Kobo Aura ONE. Not only does it have a larger screen (7.8" vs Oasis' 7") with the same 300 dpi e-ink display technology, but it's also cheaper! And for my purposes, the lack of being so deeply integrated into Amazon's ecosystem is really no disadvantage... maybe even a benefit!

    So, please review the Kobo Aura ONE.
    Reply
  • KLC - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    mode, how do you get the bundle discount on pdfs from the publisher? Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Check out informit.com and oreilly.com. InformIT often has sales and promotions (esp. when you buy 2+ titles), which brings their prices in line with (or better than) Amazon. Reply
  • Threska - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Especially technical books which are obscene, even for the old stuff. Reply
  • yhselp - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    "... dim the display over time when reading in the dark,"

    Can you completely turn off the light, though?

    Not being able to switch off the light, and lack of screen-size improvements, have been stopping me from upgrading the trusty Kindle 4 for years. I love the look and tactile button feel of my Kindle 4, and prefer it to an all-touch device. I would like a bigger, higher resolution screen, though. I've tried using Paperwhite, but can't stand the fact I can't turn off the light as I prefer to read under a lamp or sunlight. I know it's possible to mod it and kill the LEDs for good, but I wouldn't like to do that.
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    You've always been able to turn off the lighting on the Paperwhites, and the Oasis is no exception. Reply
  • yhselp - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Oh, wow. Are you sure? I genuinely did not know that's possible. Last time I tried, I used the slider to dial it all the way down, then went into the bathroom to check, and there was this faint glow still. Is there an new option in the menu to completely turn off the light, and if not, can you, please, confirm that dialing brightness down disables the light, and does not leave a faint glow? Reply
  • yhselp - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Edit: I went to the bathroom without turning the lights on to make sure it's completely dark, is what I meant. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    The Paperwhite doesn't turn right off, although at minimum brightness it's only 0.05 nits, so it's practically off. The Oasis though does turn completely off. Reply

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