Amazon pulled off the most amazing stunt when they announced the Kindle Oasis last month. They convinced the tech blogosphere that an ereader with no unique features beyond an awkwardly-conceived, mandatory case was the best ereader ever.
I, on the other hand, am underwhelmed.
I got a Kindle Oasis review unit from Kindle PR on Friday, two days after it shipped to the public. Within a few hours I came to the opinion that the Oasis is not worth $290, nor is it the best ereader ever.
It’s not even the best Kindle ever.
It is simply the latest Kindle, and currently the most expensive Kindle.
The Kindle Oasis features a one-handed design which places the page turn buttons on one side of the screen. While it may have copied the button idea from earlier ereaders like the Pocketbook Inkpad, Kindle DX, and Pocketbook 360, the Oasis improves on the idea by also putting all of the electronics, and the Oasis’ battery, behind the page turn buttons.
This has the neat effect of putting most of the weight in the palm of your hand, rather than spread across the footprint of the Oasis, but it also has a downside.
Since Amazon also chose to make this the thinnest Kindle ever, that left little room for a battery. Amazon has had to put most of the battery in the case, which connects to the Oasis via a 5-pin port.
With the case removed, Amazon’s wildly unrealistic specs claim that the Kindle has about 7 hours of battery life. Attach the case and the battery is supposed to last for months.
Or at least that’s what Amazon’s marketing materials say; real life experience disagrees.
I didn’t test the Oasis without the cover, but I have found that with the case attached the Oasis has around 3 real days of battery life. I found that with my typical reading habits, I had to recharge it at least twice a week.
In comparison, my 10″ Android tablet usually lasts for a week or more of reading and light web browsing. I use this tablet as my excuse to not get up early, and instead stay in bed and triage my email and read ebooks. It’s slow, but it works well enough that I can get work done.
But in the Oasis’ defense, the tablet is huge and awkward and the Oasis has a sleek and pleasant one-handed design.
Surely it has a better reading experience?
In a word, no.
I know that many reviewers are gushing about holding the Oasis in one hand, but I haven’t found the reading experience to be any better than on my second-gen Kindle Paperwhite.
Yes, I like reading on the Oasis, but there’s nothing that really grabs me and makes me want to continue reading on it.
In fact, I have been neglecting the Oasis for the past few days, and instead have been reading on my Paperwhite.
While I was testing the Voiceview features, I was reminded of an ebook I wanted to reread. It was on my Paperwhite, so for the past few days I have been picking it up and reading on it.
I know, I know, I really should have copied the ebook over to the Oasis, but I just wanted to read the ebook. And since both the Oasis and Paperwhite have essentially the same software, I couldn’t really see what I was missing out on (aside from the physical differences).
And I still don’t.
Frankly, after having used the Oasis for a couple weeks, I feel that this is the Paperwhite Lite. It’s the smallest of the Kindle ereaders, which is why it gives the subconscious impression that it should also be the cheapest.
Instead it costs three times as much, and does nothing to convince me that it’s worth the price.
- It has a leather case, yes, but I don’t care much about cases – not even when I am forced to use one just to get average battery life.
- It is thin, yes, but that has no practical value to me – and it comes at the cost of battery life.
- It has page turn buttons, yes, but so do a lot of other ereaders.
So no, I don’t like this ereader.
But do you know what would change my mind?
I’d like to see a Kindle with a 6.8″ screen, or an 8″ screen. Now that would be a Kindle which was _more_ than a Paperwhite rather than less.
That would be worth paying a premium price. As it stands, I think the Paperwhite is the better value, or the Voyage. They have the same software features, and cost a lot less than the Oasis.
And if you want a recommendation for a premium ereader, I would suggest the Kobo Aura H2O. It has the bigger screen, more formatting options than you can shake a stick at, and it still manages to cost less than the Kindle Oasis.
Or if you can get your hands on one, try the Pocketbook InkPad. With its 8″ screen and one-handed design, the InkPad is what the Oasis could have and should have been. The InkPad is the hardback reading experience to the Kindle’s paperback reading experience, and it was worth the cost.
The Oasis, not so much.