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The $290 Kindle Oasis Wants to be Your Refuge in a Reading Desert

kindle_oasis_cafeWe have had so many leaks over the past couple weeks that the launch of the Kindle Oasis is almost an anti-climax, but there is still more to report.

Amazon’s latest ereader went live this morning both on Amazon’s site and was announced via a press release. It costs $290 and comes with a battery-case, a 300ppi Carta E-ink screen, and page turn buttons to one side of the screen, as we expected.

Thanks to Paul Durrant of MobileRead, I can point you to the quick start guide and the user manual. I also have a bevy of links to first-hand reports, but first let me answer one question which had been vexing me.

Yes, the Oasis has a USB port.

There was some unhinged speculation over at Teleread a few weeks back to the effect that Amazon might drop the USB port from the next Kindle, and that has not happened. Len Edgerly of The Kindle Chronicles said that both the battery-case and the Oasis have their own charging ports. (He was at the launch event last week.)  A photo from Engadget showed the USB port on the upper edge of the Oasis next to the power button.

Here’s a list of the reviews. The posts by Mashable, Re/code, TechCrunch, Fortune, and TNW are not really worth your time.

If you are short on time then read The Verge’s piece, or what Slashgear says about the construction. There’s also a discussion on Slashdot.

So tell me, are you going to get one?

I am sorely tempted.

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Haesslich April 13, 2016 um 12:02 pm

Not at $400/$500 CAD. Not when I can get a Voyage for $100 less, or two of the older Paperwhite with 3G for the same price of the base Oasis model without it. Not without more improvements than shown here.

fjtorres April 13, 2016 um 12:21 pm

If they unbundled it I’d be all over it.
I’ll wait until they do.

BDR April 13, 2016 um 11:03 pm

The device’s battery lasts for two weeks. That, of course, assumes reading for 15 minutes per day so the on-device battery ACTUALLY lasts for just 3.5 hours without the cover. You’re gonna need their cover unless you fancy recharging the device 3/4’s of the way through a book.

Suzatm April 13, 2016 um 12:31 pm

I have ordered mine. I really can’t wait to try it. I had the EBookwise and loved it. It was very comfortable to hold. I read hours at a time and I am hoping the Oasis will be as comfortable as what the EBookwise was. But I am fully prepared to send it back if I can’t get past the size. I disliked the Voyage and gave it to a family member. I bought the PW 3 during the recent sale and like it so much better than the Voyage. I’m hoping comfort will triumph over size or it will be returned.

dave April 13, 2016 um 12:41 pm

No TTS = No Thanks!

Nate Hoffelder April 13, 2016 um 12:46 pm

I can understand that.

I was hoping the Bluetooth rumor meant you could speakers or a headset, but that didn’t happen.

Liz April 13, 2016 um 1:25 pm

No, I hate the way it looks from an aesthetic standpoint and I don’t like the size either. I just know that wide right margin would bug me to no end. I’ll stick to my Paperwhite.

Paul April 13, 2016 um 1:32 pm

I asked their press office and there’s no plans to implement JATS XML or MathML at the moment, so for use as a technical textbook reader its a bust.

Robert April 13, 2016 um 1:43 pm

I’m wildly disappointed by this thing. It has no useful improvements over the Voyage, has a ridiculous price courtesy of its unavoidable accessory, and to put it mildly, it’s just not attractive. I was hoping for so much more.

karen April 13, 2016 um 2:03 pm

Yep, I’ve ordered one. It’s expensive, but I’ll use it daily (so worth it for me).

Leo Vega April 13, 2016 um 2:33 pm

I was just thinking… Won’t the high price tag make instantly more desirable the voyage? I don’t know if it has had low sales, but what I do know is that that kind of tactics is as old as marketing. I remember people saying the voyage was too expensive, but you know, the actual value of something is so so psychological…

Tom Semple April 14, 2016 um 2:08 am

I think that is a little backwards. The Voyage doesn’t come with a cover, and if you were to add the cost of Amazon’s Voyage cover, the total is about the same as Oasis, which is much lighter and easier to hold, and has this cover you can detach and charge up while you continue to read. So it remains in the lineup at the same price to support the numerically higher price of the Oasis. I would predict Voyage’s sales rank will drop to last among Kindles (except when they discount it).

While the internal components are mostly identical, the manufacturing costs might be a little higher since they don’t conform to a conventional 'slab' layout. And then there’s the uniqueness of the charging cover and tooling up to manufacture that. I don’t think there’s a huge markup—that isn’t Amazon’s style (except when it comes to optional covers).

Ingo Lembcke April 14, 2016 um 4:26 am

Bought the Voyage in 2014 and could not really justify the high price to me, but it was way better than the Paperwhite 1 I used back then.
Read the reports and decided NOT to buy the expensive Amazon Cover, but a cheaper normal cover.
If I buy now, I would pay EUR 249,98 with the Amazon Cover for the Voyage, that is still way less than the Oasis with the forced and needed Cover, which lists as EUR 289,99 in Germany.
And one significant improvement over the Voyage is the Accelerometer, which can switch the Screen and could (!) do a turn to Landscape from Portrait.
It could be faster, I was underwhelmed as I got my Voyage that the Display alone was faster than the Paperwhite (Version 1), but not the Elektronics. We will see, but so far because of the hight price difference to the still high priced Voyage this is a no-buy for me – and I do not like asymetric design.

Given that the Display now only differes in the Frontlight section over 3 different priced Kindles, I see this as a failure. No Blue-tooth, not water-proof, and too expensive. Might be different if I could test one in a shop to hold it. Still a tax-return is in the near future, I will look at my bills and decide after it arrives.

Syn April 13, 2016 um 2:33 pm

iPad Mini 4 was on sale the other week for 299. 290 for another gray scale reader with an old screen and the same screen and DPI as Voyage and PW seems a waste to me. what makes this worth another 100 over the Voyage besides the page turn button? Im not finding anything new this does over the others.

Ani April 13, 2016 um 3:40 pm

Designed for one-handed operation. That’s a pretty neat feature that I’ve missed with other ereaders, which have been awkward to use on public transportation.

Otherwise I agree, the lack of a specs bump is slightly irritating. IMX is coming out with a new ereading SOC sometime late this year though so hopefully we’ll get an upgrade for the winter shopping season.

Nate Hoffelder April 14, 2016 um 7:16 am

I love the one-handed design, too, but it’s not worth $300 to me. I agree with the above comments that it needs something more: audio, a larger screen, a card slot, etc.

Juli Monroe April 13, 2016 um 2:54 pm

Nope. I’ve made the switch to doing all my reading on my iPad Mini, and there’s nothing about the Oasis which tempts me. On the now-rare occasions I might need an eInk reader, I have my PW3.

Steve H April 13, 2016 um 3:21 pm

I am getting it…

DavidW April 13, 2016 um 3:32 pm

They have the audacity to still include special offers at that price!?! I didn’t expect Amazon to be so stupid to set the price that high. It’s barely different from the Paperwhite but it’s almost 2 and a half times the price! It should have been priced at the cost of a Voyage + cost of the case and no more.

I can’t see myself buying a $300 kindle. Almost never ever, but if it was Liquivista yes I would pay that much. But not this.

I think this is a mistake, I still remember the DX not selling well and was never replaced. It really was the price and not the weight or lack of interest in the size.

Ani April 13, 2016 um 3:38 pm

I’d pay the price if it included an SD card slot. Finally, a reader designed for one-handed operation, with a lovely cover and good design? Yes! Except for all the time/energy I’d waste trying to manage space and remembering what was on it, making it significantly more hassle to use than my phone which has an SD slot. Boo.

Another device with very limited space that I have to actively manage is about the last thing I need or want.

Will O’Neil April 13, 2016 um 3:33 pm

I just ordered one and am promised it will come on 27 April. I use an e-reader for many hours each week and find it too tiring to read on tablets for long periods, so the fact that it’s no good for a lot of other things I don’t need much is irrelevant. Being able to itemize it as a tax deduction softens the price a bit.

While there’s a lot to like about it, the killer feature for me is the page-turn buttons. I don’t read in the shower and have never gotten a Kindle wet so waterproofing would mean very little to me. My eyes are not good enough for fixed-format textbook reading on 6″ screen, so that’s not an issue. I have other options for PDF and fixed format that work all right, so I don’t lust after a larger-screen e-reader that would be much less portable than this. I imagine the case will have its value when traveling.

It’s a little hard to see where Amazon can go next with e-readers. I’m sure that this will be very much a specialty item and that the PW will continue to be their mainstay as it is. No doubt the price point for the Oasis or others in its class will move down eventually, but they need to find new features to introduce at the top. Color is the most obvious one, but if it were easy they would already have it. Perhaps for Christmas?

Why would they introduce a product like this in April? Celebrate your income tax with an expensive gadget? Somehow it doesn’t seem too likely. My guess is that they are thinking of beach — vacation — Oasis.

Haesslich April 13, 2016 um 3:46 pm

I’m certainly thinking of continuing my vacation from the Kindle Store – first it was not having an incentive to buy the PW2, then the lack of Voyage availability on Canada for 18 months, and now it’s the even more excessive pricing for a Kindle with buttons and precious few changes from the Voyage.

If they’d included an SD slot, I might have considered buying it. If it didn’t have the slot, but was lower than the Voyage pricing, or drove the Voyage into a price drop, then I might have bought it or the Voyage.

But not with this – no real upgrades from the Voyage and no price reduction for what might be spoken of as their last-generation reader (the Voyage). The Oasis doesn’t scream ultra-premium to me – not with nothing but a slightly smaller size (by moving the bulk of the old battery to a detachable case) as an improvement.

DavidW April 13, 2016 um 3:39 pm

If anyone else was wanting a premium reader but was put off by this, really consider the Kobo Aura H20. It has the following features that the Kindle Oasis does not have:

* it is waterproof,
* has an sd card slot,
* larger size,
* customize-able font weights,
* customize-able margins,
* superior typography,
* no ads,
* better format support,
* better price.

poiboy April 13, 2016 um 3:50 pm

the one thing that is completely lacking about kobo is their customer service. its no where near amazon, and at times frustrating. seems to be a consensus online too.

Syn April 13, 2016 um 3:59 pm

Nate, whats the best Android reader with TTS out? I’d like 8″ but would consider 6 or 7.

Yes I wouldn’t buy from Kobo. They are almost as bad as B&N. If anything, I’d get a Android reader and just load kindle on and get my TTS. Heck at this point Im considering it. I’m still on 5th Gen PW and none of these updates have been that appealing except for the bump in DPI from my 5th Gen.

Nate Hoffelder April 14, 2016 um 7:09 am

Do you mean Android tablet? Because in that case there are so many options that it is difficult to choose.

But if you mean Android ereader, I can’t think of one that has great TTS. Arta Tech out of Poland used to ship Onyx devices with ivona, but they don’t any more.

Now you have to add it yourself, so you might as well just choose based on screen and CPU and then install the TTS app you want.

Nate Hoffelder April 13, 2016 um 4:06 pm

I like Kobo for the hardware, and I do have a handful of ebooks in Kobo’s system.

But generally I don’t buy ebooks from them, either.

Will Entrekin April 14, 2016 um 8:28 am

Look at you, trying to make Kobo happen.

I was interested in the Oasis up until the price. I’d have to hold one to see how it feels, but I’m not a fan of the oversized side bezel for the bump and the buttons. Not that I can really tell how much wider than the Voyage that makes it.

I do the vast majority of my reading on an iPad Air 2, so I’ll keep my Paperwhite for backup for now.

Jennifer April 15, 2016 um 12:35 pm

My two thumbs are up for the H2O. The larger screen size and waterproof features alone make it worthwhile. It’s so nice to be able to read in a bath or pool or the rain without worrying. I’m actually really surprised Amazon hasn’t brought out a waterproof reader yet. My H2O gets carted around in my bag during bitterly cold Quebec winters with no problems either. Can’t comment on Kobo customer service since I’ve never needed it (I do sideload all my books), but in a year and a half of pretty much daily use I’ve had to reboot it maybe three times – less than the Sony PRS-T1 that preceded it. Battery life is great too – easily one month plus (with wifi off).

poiboy April 13, 2016 um 3:47 pm

oasis.. hmm, more like a mirage!
(i’m here all week)

Robbie L. April 13, 2016 um 4:31 pm

I was kind of interested in a new Kindle, though at that price point, i’ll keep my Paperwhite.

Syn April 13, 2016 um 5:18 pm

379 with 3G and Special offers turned off.

MKS April 13, 2016 um 5:31 pm

You can get 11 Keyboard Kindles with 3G & wireless, no ads, from Amazon warehouse for that price. That’s a lot of battery life + TTS + ok it struggles web browser but hey the connection is free.

Nate Hoffelder April 13, 2016 um 7:09 pm

We can get a Paperwhite, a $50 Fire tablet, and a year of Amazon Prime for less than $290.

Nate Hoffelder April 13, 2016 um 7:10 pm

We can get a Voyage and a year of Kindle Unlimited for less than the Kindle Oasis.

Syn April 14, 2016 um 4:24 am

I loved my graphite Kindle keyboard. That one is a keeper for me. Unfortunately the tts is really robotic. To bad it can’t get updated with the newer voices.

Lila Phillips April 13, 2016 um 7:28 pm

I’m so disappointed at the experimental Web browser. I’d like and would pay for a newer, faster, & better model – to read printed web-page articles from news sites & such.

Oh, well! Maybe in the future…!

Guillaumr April 14, 2016 um 5:29 am

Very very disappointed I am. And I’m a voracious reader, a believer in Kindle for years, and very interested last first. But it’s far too expensive

I don’t need months of battery. Even a week would be enough. Who need months ?

The one-handed/page turn button thing is nice, but it is not worth 300 euros. Same for the back lightning.

I need a new e-reader (to give the old one to my daughter), but I have a kindle PW (2nd generation)… maybe a second hand voyage ?

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Basem April 14, 2016 um 7:01 am

Take away the bells and whistles and there is no reason to get the Voyage, let alone the Oasis. This has the near same six inch Carta 300 ppi screen on the Paperwhite. Only two things could’ve justified this price – Liquavista and/or larger e-reader (8 inch or more).

Will Entrekin April 14, 2016 um 8:32 am

It has the same resolution, but I think technically the screens on both the Voyage and the Oasis are, in practice, better than the Paperwhite. So far as I understand, the Voyage has better contrast, and I think both use a different substrate material — I’m positive the Oasis does, because some of the press about it mentioned a new glass process that makes it stronger at that thinness.

Steve H. April 14, 2016 um 8:59 am

I have the Paperwhite 3 and the Voyage. The Paperwhite is nice -The Voyage lighting is more consistent, has more contrast and the screen can get brighter. The Oasis seems to improve on these aspects(not sure about contrast). The question is what is good enough?

Frank April 14, 2016 um 9:56 am

While the Oasis only seems to have slightly better lighting than the Voyage, there have not been reviews to know for certain what is different.
That said, Apple’s successful business model is selling hardware that is slightly better than the last one at a big markup. Perhaps Amazon is trying this out? I doubt it will work, but you don’t know until you try.

Will Entrekin April 14, 2016 um 10:18 am

Mashable focused on some of the differences in the display and its lighting:

Nate Hoffelder April 14, 2016 um 10:25 am

Mashable also said it was a square display.

Basem April 14, 2016 um 10:03 am


Yes, it has better contrast but overall the display difference is negligible. The real difference is in the front-light, with the Oasis coming with a significantly better front-light. However, the front-light on the Paperwhite is very good and the differences don’t warrant the price difference.

Will Entrekin April 14, 2016 um 11:03 am

I think that depends on the reader, really. What’s negligible (or "good enough") for some isn’t for others. A lot of people thought that the retina iPad Mini’s display was very good, but its more limited color gamut is what made me upgrade to the iPad Air 2. I’m sure it was fine for many, but for others, not so. As far as price differences, people also decide what is warranted or not for themselves, as well.

Rebecca Allen April 14, 2016 um 4:19 pm

I ordered mine as soon as I realized that the pre-order was available — I’d been reading your coverage but wasn’t monitoring it very closely. As soon as I saw the word "wedge", I was in. I _loved_ the way the original wedge kindle felt, and nothing else has felt as good, even tho everyone swears they look better (and obvs screens etc. have improved dramatically). I keep the original out these days to remind myself how awesome that physical shape felt. I’ve perceived meaningful improvement with every new flagship kindle (and I’m reasonably certain I’ve bought every damn one, as well as numerous cheaper kindle offerings for other people). I like that they included the cover and that it adds battery life. I expect the front light to be noticeably better. I was pretty worried about the first front light (2 readers back, now?), but I wound up loving it, and loving the improvement so I figure this will be the best yet. I get that the price is kinda high, but I feel like the included case plus extra battery life is a big added benefit. If you don’t see that benefit, then the price is definitely not worth it. But if you were going to buy those features separately (I never have owned a battery case/cover on any device, because I keep credit cards and ID in my phone case) anyway, the price is about right and the integration looks awesome (I’m all about the integration at the moment, since I just bought the iPad Pro 9.7 and the Smart Keyboard and I love it, weird bump, short travel, odd clicky sounds and all). I think that this particular piece of hardware is squarely aimed at a minority group of readers that reads _a lot_ (so that months is bull shit — if you’re ploughing through 3 novels a day on vacation, this thing is still gonna be recharging every night) and is sick of having to figure out how to recharge the thing poolside.

gremlin April 14, 2016 um 7:42 pm

I’m still reading on my beloved Kindle Keyboard, and I’ve been hoping for a new Kindle that has both the built in light and page turn buttons. This is crazy expensive though.

I am most curious to hear real reports about battery life when reading without the cover. If I’m reading the various reviews right, it doesn’t sound like it’s got enough power to make it through a five hour plane flight, let alone the additional time at the airport on either end and reading that night. I have no trouble doing that with what I’ve got now.

I’m also wondering about reading with it in your left hand – how easy is it to accidentally turn the power off?

Popup April 15, 2016 um 4:06 am

One new thing with the Oasis is that it’s available worldwide from the first day! (Or at least on I haven’t checked everywhere.) And the price is comparable to the US. I just ordered it for delivery to Switzerland and it cost me the equivalent of USD307 (and that’s without the 'special offers'!)

Nate Hoffelder April 15, 2016 um 6:35 am

The price in Australia is $450 (seriously).

Now that is what I call taking it in the down under.

Popup April 15, 2016 um 7:42 am

Isn’t that 450 Aussie dollars?

AUD450 is the equivalent of USD347, and I believe that Aussie prices normally contain a 10% sales tax, so the difference isn’t flagrant.

Nate Hoffelder April 15, 2016 um 7:55 am

Whoops. I thought it was still closer to one to one.

Luke April 15, 2016 um 8:48 am

Does this still use a glass substrate or have we finally advanced to using a plastic one? I can’t justify spending that kind of money on a fragile device.

Nate Hoffelder April 15, 2016 um 8:57 am


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Christina Sampson April 21, 2016 um 4:51 pm

I wish instead of aiming to be like paper the Kindle designers and engineers would focus on being a great ereader. If we’ve lugged around hardcover books and paperbacks for centuries, surely we bibliophiles can forgive an additional ounce or two. I know I would; although I grudgingly use my Paperwhite, I miss my Kindle Keyboard.

As far as the design being better, I’m skeptical to say the least. Since I don’t hold my book in my palm with the spine resting in it (and honestly, I’ve never seen anyone read a book that way; who are the one-handed readers Kindle tests on?), that’s little incentive. Am I the only one who doesn’t hold a book like a prayer book and curls a finger or slants a thumb over text, moving it either down the page or out of the way for the two seconds it takes to read the one or two lines it may obscure?

I simply don’t hold books with my thumb parallel to the text. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman with smaller hands, but it makes the touch screen an absolute nightmare.

I want to love Kindle again. I’m one of those people who doesn’t read the house without something to read and keeps emergency books in the car. I like the backlight of the Paperwhite, but the way it forces you to hold it (because of the touchscreen) give me a sharp pain down my wrist and cramps my palm. I will happily, gladly trade weight and slimness in exchange for comfort and an unobtrusive reading experience.

So, I’ll head down to Best Buy when it’s released and hold it and play with it. Fingers crossed (but probably cramped) that I’ll like it.

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