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
POST A COMMENT

92 Comments

View All Comments

  • LeftSide - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    Thanks for the review! One of the biggest features I use on my kindle is the OpenDyslexia font. It really helps with my read speeds and accuracy. I have an older kindle with less DPI. I’m thinking 300dpi would help even more to smooth out the fonts. I’ve been looking to replace it soon, and this is the best review I’ve seen so far. Reply
  • PeachNCream - Friday, January 26, 2018 - link

    The higher DPI and lighting really helps the reading experience a lot. I had the bottom end Kindle from around 2012 for a long time and had to replace it when my ex took it along to move in with the new girlfriend. I ended up getting a Paperwhite as a replacement and it's been a nice upgrade over the old one, though I feel like the old Kindle had better battery life from the start. Even with the backlight and WiFi turned off, the Paperwhite seems to require a recharge more often than I remember the old Kindle needing when it was new. Reply
  • nico_mach - Monday, January 29, 2018 - link

    I like my entry level kindle because without the extra tech, it's the lightest kindle and the best battery life. I ditch my case all the time, making it incredibly light. But my wife loves her paperwhite, she reads in bed in the dark all the time and I get that. Every review says it's essential, but books were never backlit, right?

    For bedtime reading, I wish the paperwhite etc had a redder light.
    Reply
  • mode_13h - Monday, January 29, 2018 - link

    Kobo Aura ONE has a nighttime reading mode, for the light. Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    Nice to see an extended review of a niche device like this. I do enough reading on my current kindle, ~100 novels/year that if/when I need to replace it; I probably will spring for this model.

    The main counter argument against doing so now are that my old Kindle Keyboard (gen3) still works and still has a reasonable battery life ~2.5-3 down from ~4.5 when new. My reading pattern's bursty enough (I might read 5 in one week and none for the next two or three weeks) that I normally leave the wifi off to avoid finding it dead if I left it off the charger for too long.

    A secondary annoyance is that I don't want to keep carrying multiple sets of chargers/cables when on the road. My phone's USB-C, my next laptop will be USB-C powered, and I really don't want to still be carrying a second cable for my Kindle a half dozen years from now because it's still using a micro-B plug. I know it's less of an issue for people who've got a much larger collection of USB powered devices to pack along because they'll have multiple long tail devices on the old standard for a while and probably will want more cables for parallel charging anyway; but the 3 devices I mentioned are all I normally take with me.
    Reply
  • erwos - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    I flat-out won't buy new electronics over about twenty bucks unless they have USB-C. Micro-B is on the way out and it was never a very durable connector to begin with. Even USB-A is starting to show signs of obsolescence.

    I don't know why Amazon seems so resistant to USB-C, but they really need to start migrating their product lines to it. I am flat-out not buying a new Kindle or a Fire until I see USB-C on them.
    Reply
  • DanNeely - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    My suspicion is that it's about cost because almost all Amazon branded electronic products are priced low enough they're at best barely breaking even if not selling them at a small loss to support their stores to the extent that even adding a dollar to the BOM cost is a big deal. I pricechecked on mouser.com (a electronic component supply company), and in bulk quantities (tens of thousands) you can get micro-b connectors for as little as $0.15, vs $0.95 for USB-C sockets. When the Oasis first came out the price premium was higher, IIRC over a dollar.

    While the Oasis is an exception to Amazon's race to the bottom/loss leader pricing strategy I suspect they hesitate because adding it to one model would increase consumer pressure to add it to the more mass market parts.

    I expect the price gap for the newer connectors to continue to narrow as supply increases and the manufacturing companies gradually pay off their capital expenses for the new manufacturing hardware. I'm skeptical that they'll ever get as low as micro-b connectors. This both because the USB-C port is more complex and because phones going USB-C has resulted in a large production excess for micro-B ports. Short of something else replacing USB-C connectors (wireless charging, and wifi/bt only, or a notional USB-D connector some years down the line) we're unlikely to see a massive excess in production capacity pushing down prices through the basement floor.
    Reply
  • grant3 - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    1. You can find USB-C sockets all over alibaba for under $0.35/ea and some as low as $0.08/ea
    2. Oasis is the premium Kindle, for $250, even if USB-C costs an extra few cents, this is the appliance that deserves it.
    Reply
  • shonferg - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    I have this as well and have really liked it. The one thing that disappointed me about it, though, was that the blacks on my older Paperwhite from 3 or 4 years ago are noticeably darker. The biggest reason I decided to pay for the new device was that they finally increased the screen size, and I thought this, plus the increased resolution and storage space, would make reading manga much better. It is better on balance and worth the upgrade, but the way the pictures look a bit washed out compared to the old model is a bit disappointing. I haven't seen this mentioned in any reviews yet, which makes me wonder if it's just my device or if they are all like this. Reply
  • vanilla_gorilla - Thursday, January 25, 2018 - link

    That cost difference is completely negligible considering how much time I spend reading on a kindle. I went from a paperwhite to an oasis and it's been great. You can disable the infernal touch screen so that only the three physical buttons work (page forward, back and power to lock and re-enable the touch screen). I can't tell you how many times my finger accidentally made it a millimeter onto the touchscreen on my paperwhite and caused a page turn. Then as I poked at it angrily to flip back, I turn another page the wrong direction.

    Anyway, I couldn't be happier, display is beautiful and the device feels great and has tons of great features my paperwhite didn't have, but I would have paid the difference just on the quality of the device, display and tactile buttons.
    Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now