Every couple of years Amazon introduces a new Kindle e-ink e-reader that’s smaller, lighter and faster. But with the arrival of the Kindle Oasis, Amazon’s thinnest and lightest e-reader ever, the e-reading pioneer may have to add a new adjective to the list: pricier.
The Oasis, the first Kindle to include a protective cover — a swanky leather one that integrates a backup battery no less — costs a whopping $290 or £270. It’s available for pre-order now and ships April 27. (Amazon doesn’t sell direct to Australia, but the US price converts to AU$380.)
For all that dough you are getting a completely redesigned Kindle that weighs a mere 4.6 ounces (131 grams) and measures 3.4 mm (0.13 inches) at its slimmest point. Amazon says the Oasis is 20 percent lighter and 30 percent thinner on average than the Kindle Voyage ($200, £170), which remains in the line along with the Paperwhite ($120, £110) and entry-level Kindle ($80, £60). (Those prices, at least for the Paperwhite and entry-level Kindles, are frequently discounted by Amazon.)
To get that lighter weight, Amazon’s engineers equipped the new e-reader with a “featherweight” polymer frame plated with metal structural electroplating that adds rigidity. Also, the internal battery and electronics have been scrunched into an ergonomic hump on the backside of the device that allows you to hold the e-reader comfortably in your hand. The hump shifts the weight of the device so it’s better balanced and feels more like you’re holding a book with a spine. It does feel really light.
The other significant change is to the lighting scheme. Amazon says the built-in front light has 60 percent more LEDs and they’re embedded in the side of the display, not the bottom. I didn’t get a chance to formally compare the Oasis to the Voyage, but the light does appear a little brighter and splays more uniformly across the screen. I wouldn’t call it a huge upgrade, but it’s an upgrade nonetheless.
Amazon says the Oasis’ new Paperwhite display is the first in a Kindle to use a 200-micron backplane that is “as thin as a single sheet of aluminum foil.” It’s been combined with a custom cover glass engineered from “chemically reinforced” glass for added toughness.
The text on the touchscreen e-ink display looks very close to what you get with the Kindle Paperwhite and Voyage. There’s the same sharp 300 ppi resolution and similar contrast. You can turn pages by touching the screen or press the physical page turn buttons on the side of the device.
It’s also worth noting that you can hold the device in your left or right hand while reading. Thanks to a built-in accelerometer, the screen automatically rotates the page and page turn buttons to match the hand you have the device in. Alas, the case isn’t waterproof, which isn’t a major issue, but with a name like Oasis and its high price, some people may expect to include waterproofing — especially those who like to read in the bath tub.
The battery cover, which comes in three color options, is pretty slim but obviously adds some weight to the device. It adheres magnetically and is easy to remove and slip back on, so you can easily take it off when you don’t need the extra protection. Amazon says the Oasis gets over 2 weeks of battery life on its own, and over 9 weeks when combined with cover.
It all adds up to the nicest e-ink e-reader that Amazon’s ever produced. That said, its high price puts it into luxury territory and will primarily appeal to Kindle devotees who don’t mind paying extra money to have the slimmest, lightest Kindle available.
Kindle Oasis’ key specs:
4.6 ounces and 3.4 mm at its thinnest pointLatest-generation high-resolution 300 ppi Paperwhite touch-screen displayRedesigned front light features 60 percent more LEDs and better uniformity4GB of built-in storage (stores thousands of e-books)Included leather charging cover sticks magnetically to Kindle1GHz processor2 weeks of battery life on its own, over 9 weeks when combined with coverRead with either handBattery cover comes in three color options3G + Wi-Fi option is more expensive at $360 or £330