Technophile

This Oasis is little more than a mirage

Visvaksen P | Updated on January 20, 2018 Published on May 04, 2016

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Amazon’s latest Kindle is undoubtedly the best eReader that money can buy. But it doesn’t really justify its hefty price tag



Amazon dominates the world of books like no other entity has since the Bible started rolling out of Gutenberg’s press in the early 1400s. Within two decades of its founding, the company has established an unshakeable stranglehold over the book industry, dramatically altered the way book publishing works and put small and medium-sized booksellers out of business the world over.

However, arguably its most significant impact in the long term is likely to be its championing of the cause of digital books. In the US, the largest market for ebooks in the world, Amazon’s market share varies between 65 per cent and 74 per cent depending on which estimate you believe (the latter includes indie books). This domination of the content end of the business has gone hand in hand with the ever increasing popularity of their digital reading hardware – the Kindle line of eReaders.

Since its launch in 2007, the common Kindle – a single-purpose device that is meant only for reading books and nothing else – has gone through seven iterations and is now pretty close to perfect in terms of basic form and functionality.

How do you improve on near perfection? That’s a question that spawned first the Kindle Voyage, and now the Oasis – both of which incorporate all the basic achievements of the cheapest Kindles, but also claim to offer something special in exchange for a whole lot more dough. The burden of expectation will weigh particularly heavily on the Oasis, which costs more than an iPad Mini 2.

Reinventing the wheel

The Oasis is square. This is the most obvious change from previous Kindle models, which have typically been rectangles of varying shapes. It is also exceedingly light and thin. It is 3.4 mm thick for the most part – with an ergonomic bulge to one side that makes it easier to hold one-handed at the cost of a few added millimetres of thickness. On the flip-side of the bulge is a pair of conveniently located page turn buttons.

The device is sleek and sexy, but the anorexic-supermodel dimensions come at a cost. A portion of the battery which would have been included in the device has been hived off into a leather cover which can be charged through the Kindle.

The functional end of the device - a touch-enabled 6-inch E-Ink screen – is almost identical to the Voyage. The one key difference is the addition of four extra LED lights which make the backlight slightly more powerful.

Still just a wheel

The new design is definitely an improvement on previous generation Kindles. With the majority of its mass concentrated in the bulge, the Kindle becomes extremely convenient to hold and operate with one hand. And the single set of physical buttons is just as good as the left-right combo on older Kindles due to the device’s ability reorient its display based on movement.

But beyond the marginal improvement in ergonomics and the overall look and feel of the product, the Oasis doesn’t really offer much more than those it supercedes. The latest version of Kindle OS – preloaded on the Oasis – does feature a redesigned interface and a number of new features such as recommended books, Goodreads integration and quick access to key settings, but the new software runs just as well on older Kindles as well.

In fact, the improvements come with tradeoffs. The device itself is only rated for seven hours of usage. The battery cover adds an additional 28 hours, but whether Amazon will allow third-parties to offer additional cases with different designs or force everyone to use their rather dull black one, remains to be seen.

Verdict

If you’re wondering why no mention has been made about the experience of reading a book on the Oasis so far, it’s because there is little need to. Like we alluded to earlier, Kindles do most of the basics extremely well. The screen on the Oasis is a little brighter and pages turn a little quicker, but at its core is the same near-perfect digital reading experience that has played such a big part in the mainstreaming of ebooks.

Having said that, we have to recommend against buying this device unless you are besotted with the form factor or have cash to burn. Just like the Voyage before it, the Oasis is a great device, but it simply doesn’t offer enough improvement over the models below it to justify the increase in cost.

By our reckoning, the Paperwhite, which costs less than half the price and offers most of the same features, remains the ideal Kindle.

Price: 23,999

Love: Design

Hate: Price

Published on May 04, 2016

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