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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  • yhselp - Saturday, January 27, 2018 - link

    Thank you so much for confirming this! It is vital information to me, and a major deciding factor, despite whether it’s the most objective thing in the world. Cheers! Reply
  • bobsmith1492 - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    I read a couple hundred books on my Paperwhite over the last couple of years. Since I got my Galaxy S8 this summer though I've just used that instead. With the OLED screen and blue light filter it doesn't keep me up late. I like the dark background option which gives many hours of reading since OLED only powers active pixels. One fewer thing to keep maintained. Kind of sad though to see my Kindle sitting there begging for a recharge. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    The need to carry something else around is probably the biggest drawback to dedicated eReaders like the Kindle. Sure eInk is lots better for reading and the longer battery life is a benefit too, but I already have a phone with me and it's sometimes hard to justify an additional device. I love my Paperwhite, but there are lots of times when I've left it at home because I don't want to carry it around or just don't remember to pick it up on the way out. They're large enough that you're basically carrying a tablet and phone with you if you do take it and that can get sort of cumbersome. Reply
  • mode_13h - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Wow, first world problems!

    Back in the day, I'd be debating how many books and papers to put in my backpack. Heavy textbooks and technical books, no less.

    I still think it's amazing that I could carry my entire technical library in an e-reader. Physical media of some form or another actually comprises much of my possessions.
    Reply
  • Threska - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Moving day's easier when most is digital. Reply
  • mode_13h - Saturday, January 27, 2018 - link

    So true. A few years back, I had the revelation that most Millennials and younger probably own close to zero physical media. Maybe with the exception of a crate a vinyl records.

    I do have LDs, but zero LPs.
    Reply
  • xchaotic - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    Thank you for the review. I read a lot and this confirm that there isn't enough to upgrade from Voyage. Reply
  • Hixbot - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    Hmm, I was hoping to finally see a color e-ink display. Perfect for comics. Oh well, I'll stick to a 7" tablet. Reply
  • mode_13h - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    Exactly what I had been waiting for, but finally I decided that even a couple current monochrome e-readers would be adequate for my needs and provide enough benefit to justify the expense.

    Does anyone have solid info on the prospects for color e-readers? Is there any tradeoff vs. resolution or contrast?
    Reply
  • bhauertso - Sunday, January 28, 2018 - link

    The article touches on a few downsides, but for anyone considering an Oasis, I want to give a heads-up on some of the issues that have bothered me with the Oasis.

    I bought an Oasis because it is the first Kindle to offer the ability to invert the screen colors. That alone is a sufficient counterbalance to the downsides for my particular preferences. But if that feature were absent, I would consider the Oasis a downgrade from my Paperwhite.

    The most important downside (and the article does mention this briefly) is that the material is smooth and lacks any texturing. Combined with the positioning of the hard buttons and inability to turn off paging via the touch screen creates a situation where it can become very fatiguing to hold the device upright while reading.

    Additionally, although the Oasis has screen rotation, it does not have a rotation-lock feature. I've had several circumstances where the screen flips unintentionally for a moment. This is irksome at best and actually disruptive at worst (sometimes the software does re-flows the document when rotating which can cause the sentence you were reading to move).

    More here: http://tiamat.tsotech.com/kindle-oasis
    Reply

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